Operation Demetrius Internment Ballymurphy Massacre

Internment Files Released for 50th Anniversary

New Evidence: Operation Demetrius and Internment

August 9th sees the 50th anniversary of the launch of Operation Demetrius, the British Army operation of mass arrest and internment without trial of Irish Catholics suspected by the British authorities of being involved in the Irish Republican Army. Most were not.

If ever proof was needed that the conflict could not be solved by military and legal means alone, Operation Demetrius and Internment stands as a warning to future generations. Far from quelling what the British portrayed as localized unrest, the introduction of Internment on the 9th August 1971 plunged the north of Ireland into a spiral of violence, destruction and death.

24 souls lost their lives in the three days after the beginning of Operation Demetrius, including 17 unarmed civilians killed by the British Army and 3 by paramilitaries. 2 British Soldiers and 2 IRA Volunteers were also killed.

The story of its failure is told most starkly in the death toll in the months prior to and following its introduction. 10 people (4 British soldiers, 4 civilians and 2 Republican Volunteers) had died in the four months leading up to internment. 128 died in its four-month aftermath (69 civilians and 59 combatants – thirteen Republican combatants and 46 British army, RUC, UDR and Loyalist personnel – reference Lost Lives).

Research for Victims and Survivors

Paper Trail has been working with families and campaign groups impacted by the violence specifically over these horrific days.

We have provided critical new evidence to human rights organisations and recent inquests.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of this tumultuous period in our history, Paper Trail is sharing previously unseen British Military Logs covering the period in Belfast. We fought for them over the last few years via Freedom of Information and Public Interest Tests, and secured redacted copies from the National Archives and British Ministry of Defence.

Victims and Survivors can access these bundles after filling in this online monitoring form and we will send you access details.

We have two bundles:

  1. General 39 Brigade British Army files covering the Belfast area.
  2. The Battle of Inglis’ Bakery in the Market area.

When filling in the form, specify which you would like to read in the “Reason for Contact” section.


Whilst these files are redacted by the British authorities and are now public following Paper Trail’s battles, ensure you are safe to read the information as it can be upsetting, especially to people impacted by the violence they depict.

Contact Victims and Survivors Service for a wide range of free and independent support across the north of Ireland – telephone +44 28 90279100

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