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What if…the army hadn’t gone to Northern Ireland

Prospect’s counter-factual column

By David McKittrick   November 2013

Fewer than a dozen people had died violently in Northern Ireland when the first bewildered British squaddies with fixed bayonets edged nervously on to the Falls Road, Belfast, in August 1969. What if the soldiers hadn’t appeared—what if Harold Wilson had not ordered them in to quell the rising tide of Protestant and Catholic street clashes?

The arrival of the military obviously provided no solution, for during the next two years more than 200 died. In the decades that followed, about 3,700 people lost their lives before the peace process eventually brought today’s semblance of normality.

But if London had…

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