New TV documentary on ‘Operation Motorman’

A new television documentary dealing with the story of ‘Operation Motorman’ - the British Army’s 1972 plan to retake the ‘No-Go’ areas in Derry and Belfast - is now in production.

Local film-maker Vinny Cunningham, of Open Reel Productions, has teamed up with the Nerve Centre’s John Peto for the film, scheduled to be screened this summer to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the Army operation.

‘Operation Motorman’, which took place in the early hours of July 31, 1972, centred on “no-go areas” such as Free Derry. The British Army used bulldozers and Centurion tanks to smash through and dismantle the barricades, before flooding the “no-go areas” with troops in armoured vehicles.

During the operation, the Army shot four people in Derry, killing 15-year-old Daniel Hegarty at Creggan Heights and Seamus Bradley at Bishop’s Field.

A few hours after the conclusion of Motorman, the Claudy bombing occurred. Nine civilians were killed when three car bombs exploded on the town’s main street.

Vinny Cunningham says the new film will try to tell the “full story” around the events of Operation Motorman: “It will also take a look inside Operation Motorman itself with contributions from soldiers, politicians, paramilitaries and local people detailing the events of the operation and its tragic consequences, which continue to be felt today in Derry, Claudy and elsewhere,” said Vinny.

In a bid to shed as much light as possible on these events, the filmmakers are appealing to members of the public who have memories, photographs, film, or artefacts relating to Operation Motorman to get in touch with them and help them tell the story in as much detail as possible.

Vinny Cunningham and John Peto can be contacted at the following e-mail addresses: and