Free Derry as a physical entity ended with Operation Motorman, and this area suffered inordinately in the decades of armed conflict that followed. The death and injury rate here throughout the 1970s, 1980s and into the 1990s was high as the PIRA and the British Army fought a long war of attrition.

But the spirit of Free Derry lived on in the stubborn independence of its people. The lessons of self-reliance learned during the years of Stormont repression, which were first evidenced in the emergence of the early civil rights groups, remained apparent in the strength of the community sector here and in how the people of this area continued to look to themselves to look after their own interests. This was, and is, especially important since it is still one of the most economically and socially deprived areas in the north of Ireland.

And just as Free Derry was central to the emergence of the conflict, so too was it central to the political process which ended it, with early talks between key figures taking place here in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

  • melaugh

    Escalating unrest 1972 - 1994

    Operation Motorman was designed to break Free Derry and other republican no go areas in the north of Ireland, and to remove support bases for republicans, but it failed. The war continued for more than two more decades, until the announcement of the first PIRA ceasefire in 1994.