At present I’m reading one of those “What If..” essay books, you know type “What if someone had shot Hitler in 1935”, or “What if the Potato had never reached Europe”, intending to show that in some cases a small change seemed to make a massive difference, but also in other cases things were probably fated to turn out much the same, none of the scenarios are meant to be taken seriously, but what they are great at doing is showing how complex situations were during those various periods of history.
Which Brings us back to Bloody Sunday once again and the question that has probably been in many peoples minds this last week, “What if the 1st Paras had not went in that day”, almost 40 yrs on would many things have turned out different? for the better? or possibly even for the worse?
One view could be that without the boost the IRA received from the deaths they would not have been able to sustain the campaign, and a political solutions would have arrived sooner.
Another view could be that without the “shock” of Bloody Sunday for both sides the killing peak of 1972 might have been avoided, but things might have increased in a more sustained manner, eventually reach an all out civil war (for those who think it was all out war just look at the 2000 odd deaths in Kyrgyzstan which is regarded as a minor conflict barely worth mentioning by many).
These are just 2 snippets of possible outcomes and I would like readers to submit others, or even adapt these and expand them, the possible variations are infinite and I may contribute more myself later, however in reality everyone of them are ridiculous as they can never now happen and are not to be taken seriously. Neither is this an attempt to trivialise the event, but it is an attempt to get a snapshot of the complexities of the situation at the time, and maybe from that learn a bit about the many “whys” of the period.
Before you start writing a few things should be kept in mind,
firstly the conflict was already well established at that stage, check out the records on CAIN for deaths in the preceding years.
Secondly going by the pattern of the period it is still likely deaths would have occured that day, possibly on both sides, but certainly not as many.
Finally there is no right answer so go easy on each other…