The most disturbing of the emerging myths of the Troubles is the lie of widespread collusion between the British authorities at every level and loyalists.
Certainly there were deplorable instances of collusion, which was almost inevitable given that hundreds of thousands of soldiers and tens of thousands of policemen served in Northern Ireland after 1969.
But a striking feature of loyalist paramilitaries is how bad their intelligence was, as any scrutiny of the lists of the dead will show. This suggests that collusion was fitful and mostly low-level.
Their victims were typically Catholic civilians.
But collusion has been defined so widely as to be almost meaningless. The implication of a murderous British state is used to retrospectively justify IRA terror.
The continual anniversaries of republican atrocities must be embarrassing for all but the most deranged gunmen, so it is not hard to see why republicans shift the focus on to the state.
Yet the true story of state actions — as every republican who was acquitted by a British court knows — is one of restraint, marred by occasional blunders.
But collusion continues to be defined widely to suit republicans. That being the case, it is only fair to point out that there was plenty of ‘collusion’ between the Irish state and republicans.
While most of the Dublin establishment abhorred the IRA, there were individuals who didn’t, as the 1970 Arms Trial showed.
And even many of those who abhorred the Provisionals seem to have harboured a deep dislike for Britain. How else can the pitifully low extradition rate be explained?
That deliberate failure allowed sectarian IRA psychopaths to roam border areas murdering vulnerable Protestants.
There have been big changes in nationalist Ireland, as the Smithwick Tribunal showed.
But so long as the past failures of London are exhaustively examined, so must be the failures of Dublin.