The British government was seriously considering repartitioning the North in 1972 to create a Protestant state.
Cabinet papers released today under the thirty-year rule also reveal the British government greatly underestimated the loyalist potential for violence.
The Cabinet papers show the then British Prime Minister, Edward Heath, discussed re-drawing the border to hand over parts of Fermanagh and Armagh to the Republic and then removing 500,000 people south. The papers say this would have required a completely ruthless use of force and the idea was scrapped.
They also show that within 10 days of Bloody Sunday, a British government official met an IRA man who demanded the end of internment and for London to assume responsibility for security, law and order from Stormont.
The British government at the time underestimated the UDA's potential for violence although it murdered 100 people in 1972. UDA men were joining the British Army but the official response was that the UDA was channelling Protestant energies, which might otherwise have been disruptive, in a constructive and disciplined direction.