Nationalist rewriting of history must be urgently challenged

Morning View

Morning View

Of the many difficulties facing unionism, perhaps the gravest crisis is the rapid rewriting of history.

Even the most moderate elements of nationalist Ireland are complicit in promoting an emerging narrative of the Troubles which tells of a murderous British state, to which the only reasonable response was IRA violence.

This happened again last week with the latest reports about alleged collusion between the state and loyalists.

This emerging narrative is almost the opposite of the truth, in which a restrained British state overwhelmingly abided by the rule of law in the face of terrorist depravity.

Serial killer republican thugs, known to be guilty by the communities that harboured them, by the intelligence services that tracked them, by the police that tried to apprehend them, and by the judges who acquitted them, were freed because the British legal system — the template for judicial systems around the world — insists on the highest burden of proof.

Many people, particularly border Protestants, died because these brutal republicans were again and again given a benefit of the doubt that they never afforded the people that they slaughtered. Yet British officials and unionists, who are disastrous at PR, have been ineffective in challenging this nationalist lie of a gangster state being resisted by a heroic band of freedom fighters.

While there were some deplorable instances of low-level collusion, any examination of the lists of the Troubles dead quickly shows that loyalist intelligence was useless. Typically, such paramilitaries killed random Catholics.

A group of academics is now challenging the subtle but determined nationalist bid to retrospectively legitimise terrorism. These intellectuals need the active support of the moderate unionist majority who remember the IRA for what it was, yet who always repudiated loyalist terrorists, both morally and at the polls.




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