When times change people, by merely holding their position, can be so easily pulled out of position and harshly exposed. Ken Maginnis, once an incumbent of the Fermanagh South Tyrone parliamentary seat in the British parliament, if he has learned anything in his 77 years, might well acknowledge the value of the Heraclites aphorism that no one ever steps in the same river twice.
Maginnis, a former major in the locally recruited state terror militia, the Ulster Defence Regiment, was once feted particularly in the South as a progressive enlightened unionist, not some reactionary embedded in one of the many tenebrous 1690 defensive echelons. After his contribution on last night’s documentary about collusion broadcast by RTE, the one thing missing was his cudgel. He managed to sound like some cave dweller, angered by the youth he no longer has. “The boy Cameron” was how he contemptuously described the current British Prime Minister who in the Major's Blimp’s eye view of the world, had outrageously imposed the imprimatur of the British parliament on the existence of collusion between combatants from British state security services and loyalist activists. In dismissing Cameron, Magennis invoked the type of argument sometimes employed by creationist kooks in defence of their deranged insistence – and with the same limited effect - that the universe was created about 6,000 years ago, “were you there?”
Not hard after that performance to imagine Maginnis swanning around a plantation in the Southern states of 19th Century America lashing out at any “boy” who might stir his ire and advocating a good horsewhipping for any upstart willing to upset the status quo ante.
Maginnis has elected to wear the crown of King Canute and command wave after relentless wave of media probing to halt. John Ware’s excellent and elongated Collusion is the latest assault on British state mendacity, eroding the edifice of dissembling upon which much of Britain’s claim to legitimacy for its role in policing the North has been constructed.
If we wish to indulge in the language of terrorism, the British state was not valiantly defending a beleaguered democracy and the rule of law against some terrorist onslaught. It was part of the terrorist maelstrom, asserting through its actions while denying through its discourse, that democracy and the rule of law were such worthless concepts that they need not be respected, but systemically flouted. There was no defence of society being mounted here, just a defence of British state and unionist power.
In last night’s documentary Daniel Holder of The Committee on the Administration of Justice made the point that the killing of Pat Finucane crystallised in a readily discernible manner what collusion actually was. No matter how many times we look at the state-cum-loyalist assassination of Pat Finucane, it loses none of its power to induce an involuntary shudder, occasioned by a sobering awareness of just how vulnerable Irish citizens were in the face of British state terrorism.
The security services personnel who procured and counselled his slaying and those who made “heinous discovery” that it was about to happen and did nothing to prevent it, behaved as they did in the full expectation that they would not be answerable for it. This was made possible only by a state that had completely abandoned its duty of care to the people it claimed as citizens. That wilful, knowing abandonment, which is what the British state at the very least is guilty of, helped make collusion viable and sustainable. Without that blind eye collusion would never have been possible: it was a necessary condition of collusion.
Collusion might not have been a precisely written down policy that can ever be proved with documentation that shows the progression of orders through each link in the chain of command, but there is no longer room for the slightest doubt that it was a state permitted and approved practice. Where the state was not involved in planning individual acts of collusion it was wholly immersed in systematic cover up, an integral component of collusion. It was always an accomplice after the fact which when conveyed as feedback to the state terrorist on the ground was correctly read as approval for future actions, making the state the key influence in the preparation of acts of collusion. The continuous feedback loop was the lifeblood that sustained the structure of collusion.
In a rear-guard action the British can be sensed almost edging towards the mitigation that the Northern conflict was a war that required war time measures. Imperial hubris and establishment conceit have thus far prevented it from going the whole distance. However, given the lengths the British state went during the conflict to deprive the IRA and INLA of any legitimacy that might accrue from acknowledging the combatant rather than criminal status of the insurgents, any mitigating value is depreciated by the law of diminishing returns.
Despite unionist fears at what is unfolding what we are now witnessing is not a falsification of the narrative of the conflict but a retrieval of a truth at the very heart of it: Britain was an enthusiastic practitioner of state terrorism in Ireland and unionism supported it.
Feeding unionist alarm is an awareness that a knock on effect is that as legitimacy is drained away from the British state, and by extension from unionism, courtesy of its state terrorism being increasingly exposed, it is simultaneously being infused into the activity of the IRA. Although the Good Friday Agreement helped define the IRA campaign as part of an internal conflict problem and tended to set the British above any causal culpability for the North's political violence, giving the British state a huge legitimisation advantage, it can hardly be disputed now that a major plank in the IRA’s armed struggle was a war against British state terrorism.
It sort of means that during the H Block prison protests, the criminals were locking up the political prisoners.