‘Motorman’ film file closed for 100 years

A tank rumbles into Creggan on July 31, 1972.
A tank rumbles into Creggan on July 31, 1972.
  • A film file relating to ‘Motorman’ has been classified for 100 years
  • Operation Motorman took place on July 31, 1972
  • Two teenagers were shot dead in Creggan during the operation

A British Army film file charting the events of Operation Motorman in July, 1972 has been locked for a period of 100 years, the ‘Journal’ can reveal.

The ‘Journal’ recently ran material from the files relating to the killing of Seamus Bradley, a 19-year-old shot dead on the day. In the files it was mentioned that the British Army had placed personnel on the ground to take film footage and still photographs of the operation. However, a Freedom of Information request from the ‘Journal’ to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) revealed that the MoD claimed they no longer had the film footage in their archives. However, the MoD recommended that the ‘Journal’ contact both the UK National Archive and the Imperial War Museum to see if they had the requested information.

A response from the UK National Archive said that the organisation had three film files in relation to Operation Motorman, which were not digitized but two of which could be viewed at their premises in Kew, London.

But, a third file under the Reference Number WO 305/4600 has been closed for a period of 100 years.

The other person killed by the Army in Creggan on July 31, 1972, was a 15-year-old, Daniel Hegarty. A second inquest into his death in 2011 finally cleared his name of British military smears that was engaging in violence when he was shot dead. The notes attached to file WO 305/4600 also reveal that the file was deemed classified for a century back in 2011.

Daniel’s sister, Margaret Brady told the ‘Journal’ she wasn’t even aware that such footage existed.

British soldiers swarm into Creggan during Operation Motorman, July 1972. Courtesy Colmen Doyle.

British soldiers swarm into Creggan during Operation Motorman, July 1972. Courtesy Colmen Doyle.

“I find this more than strange. In fact I find it shocking. Why is locked for 100 years? Are they again trying to wait until we are all rotting in the ground before they reveal the truth?

“They are just trying to manufacture a story that suits them. We have political parties here talking about ‘fresh starts’. How can there be a fresh start when the British Government continue to hide things. But, like I’ve always said, it is not the innocent who have to fear the truth. It is those who committed these crimes who are running scared,” she said.

19-year-old IRA man Seamus Bradley was unarmed when shot by the British Army. His family maintain he was tortured by the military after he was arrested. The process to get a fresh inquest into his death is well underway.

Solicitor for the Bradley family, Richard Campbell told the ‘Journal’ he had never come across an incident before where material had been closed for such a length of time.

Why is locked for 100 years?-Margaret Brady

“We have made a request to the Coroner’s Service, who have investigatory powers for their help in getting all material in relation to Motorman released.

“But, this is bizarre. Why is it locked for 100 years. What could be contained in this material that is so bad that it is to be locked for a century?”, he said.

The lawyer said he will be tabling the issue at the next meeting working towards the establishment of a date for a new inquest into Seamus Bradley’s death.