In ‘Operation Demetrius’ in the early hours of 9 August, soldiers and police men smashed into homes and arrested 342 men across the north. Their intelligence proved faulty. The operation didn’t significantly damage the IRA. Sixteen men were arrested in Derry, not all of them republicans.
IRA leaders hold a press conference in the Bogside after internment. L-R, Martin McGuinness, Daithí Ó’Conaill, Seán MacStiofáin, Seamus Twomey.
Derry Women’s Action Committee protest against internment.
Hugh Herron (31) was shot dead by a soldier in Henriettta Street.
Internment enraged nationalist Derry. Barricades were again erected and Free Derry resurrected. Armed IRA patrols appeared openly. Within hours, 6 British soldiers were wounded. Across the north, 17 people were killed in the 48 hours following internment, including the first British soldier shot dead in Derry. Around 7,000 people fled their homes.
News of the torture of internees soon leaked out, increasing resentment and resistance in areas like Free Derry.
Internment united opinion in Free Derry in a way not seen since 1969. Angry protests became an everyday occurrence. A campaign of civil disobedience was undertaken. More than 130 non-unionist councillors withdrew from district councils. A rent and rates strike was launched.
Anger increased with news that a number of those arrested – “The Hooded Men” – had been tortured.