As violence spiralled, the British Government, pressed by unionist leaders at Stormont, introduced internment without trial. The measure had been used against Republicans in every decade since the foundation of the state.
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.
On 18 August came the British Army response to reborn Free Derry. Over 1,300 troops, with helicopters and armoured cars, began dismantling barricades. IRA Volunteer Eamonn Lafferty (19) was killed in a gun battle during this operation. Barricades were replaced as quickly as they were dismantled.