IN the dying hours of the inquest into the killing of Paul Thompson, the legal representatives of the Northern Ireland Office and the Secretary of State worked to the last minute to prevent Eugene Thompson, Paul’s only surviving relative, from getting a 'gist' of withheld papers which may have been relevant to the murder.

The Coroner fought tooth and nail to provide Eugene with this gist, despite the Secretary of State, but it was not to be. The inquest ended unfinished and the Coroner is writing to the same Secretary of State to request a public inquiry.

Nothing could have prepared Eugene Thompson for this process. Nothing could have prepared us for the Legacy Act, the denial of fundamental rights, the arrogance of the enablers of the Act, or the legal representatives of the British state who left Paul Thompson’s brother, their late mother Margaret’s surviving son, sitting in that court as the lights went off, without the inquest finished.

The Legacy Act has created an environment where the British state has reasserted its own legal primacy and its shield of sovereignty, regardless of the devolution of criminal justice or policing. Connected to that is the notion that we will frame our understanding of our conflict through the lens of Britain’s own discovery and history processes.

Last week we were treated to the spectacle of a 'public' history project which will now write the official history of British policy in Ireland. This new project will be like the new ICRIR processes. They are promised unprecedented access to documents unavailable before. They are promised goodwill, never seen before. And if you believe that, I hope the Tooth Fairy filled your pillow cases with the gold at the end of the rainbow that Santa collected when he rode in on a unicorn. 

We are ready for what that means. No-one believes that there is a different state to the one that devised the Legacy Act and sent its hyena-like lackies into the courts to deny gists of hidden reports to bereaved relatives like Eugene, Bridie Brown, Chris Moran, Christine McCusker or Bernie McKearney; one that will now suddenly emerge in all of its beneficence.  No-one believes that the British state will now begin the processes of opening up the files written by Frank Kitson, disclosure of which were denied to Mary Heenan, wife of Paddy, killed by Ginger Baker.

It is not only because we are not the thick Paddies some would like us to think we are, or that we are a bit cynical after decades of lies, denial and delays. No, we do not believe any of this guff because of all of that – and because the British government in its current Tory embodiment told us that their plan is exactly the opposite. They put in their manifestos and made public promises to their veterans that they will protect veterans  and their narrative of the British state’s role in our conflict. And these dead-hand bodies are how they will do it. 

What we can expect now is exactly what we have seen for decades in the absence of British good faith. Families and communities recording the truth, sharing the truth and fighting for the better day to come. Never giving up.