Operation Motorman was the code name given to a mission carried out by the British Army on July 31st, 1972. The goal was to forcibly reassert control over the Nationalist and Republican areas in the North of Ireland, with a particular focus in the cities of Derry and Belfast. In these cities, nearly impenetrable barricades had been erected in many neighborhoods barring any soldiers from entering or policing the communities. When the Provisional Irish Republican Army detonated more than twenty bombs in Belfast on July 21st of that year, the English government decided that the “No-go” areas in these towns would no longer be tolerated and Operation Motorman was born.
It was an investigation that took twelve years and over £200m to complete. The Bloody Sunday inquiry, as it was originally called, produced over ten volumes of analysis and led to a comprehensive and glaring report by Lord Saville that was released five years ago today. It caused shockwaves throughout the North of Ireland and it forced the Prime Minister to make a formal and public apology for the actions of the British Army in Derry on one fateful Sunday in 1972.