Free Derry (Irish: Saor Dhoire) was a self-declared autonomous nationalist area of Derry, Northern Ireland, that existed between 1969 and 1972. Its name was taken from a sign painted on a gable wall in the Bogside in January 1969 which read, "You are now entering Free Derry". The area, which included the Bogside and Creggan neighbourhoods, was secured by community activists for the first time on 5 January 1969 following an incursion into the Bogside by members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). Residents built barricades and carried clubs and similar arms to prevent the RUC from entering. After six days the residents took down the barricades and RUC patrols resumed, but tensions remained high over the following months.

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  • Free Derry (Irish: Saor Dhoire) was a self-declared autonomous nationalist area of Derry, Northern Ireland, that existed between 1969 and 1972. Its name was taken from a sign painted on a gable wall in the Bogside in January 1969 which read, "You are now entering Free Derry". The area, which included the Bogside and Creggan neighbourhoods, was secured by community activists for the first time on 5 January 1969 following an incursion into the Bogside by members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). Residents built barricades and carried clubs and similar arms to prevent the RUC from entering. After six days the residents took down the barricades and RUC patrols resumed, but tensions remained high over the following months. Violence reached a peak on 12 August 1969, culminating in the Battle of the Bogside—a three-day pitched battle between residents and the RUC. On 14 August units of the British Army were deployed at the edge of the Bogside and the RUC were withdrawn. The Derry Citizens Defence Association (DCDA) declared their intention to hold the area against both the RUC and the British Army until their demands were met. The British Army made no attempt to enter the area. The situation continued until October 1969 when, following publication of the Hunt Report, military police were allowed in. The Irish Republican Army (IRA) began to re-arm and recruit after August 1969. In December 1969 it split into the Official IRA and the Provisional IRA. Both were supported by the people of the Free Derry area. Meanwhile, relations between the British Army and the nationalist community, which were initially good, deteriorated. In July 1971 there was a surge of recruitment into the IRA after two young men were shot and killed by British troops. The government introduced internment on 9 August 1971, and in response, barricades went up once more in the Bogside and Creggan. This time, Free Derry was a no-go area, defended by armed members of both the Official and Provisional IRA. From within the area they launched attacks on the British Army, and the Provisionals began a bombing campaign in the city centre. As before, unarmed 'auxiliaries' manned the barricades, and crime was dealt with by a voluntary body known as the Free Derry Police. Support for the IRA increased further after Bloody Sunday in January 1972, when thirteen unarmed men and boys were shot dead by the British Army's Parachute Regiment at a march in the Bogside (a 14th man was wounded and died ​4 1⁄2 months later). The support began to wane after the killing by the Official IRA of a local youth who was home on leave from the British Army. After a Provisional IRA ceasefire, during which it entered talks with the British government, broke down, the British took the decision to move against the "no-go" areas. Free Derry came to an end on 31 July 1972, when thousands of British troops moved in with armoured cars and bulldozers to occupy the area. (en)
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  • Free Derry (Irish: Saor Dhoire) was a self-declared autonomous nationalist area of Derry, Northern Ireland, that existed between 1969 and 1972. Its name was taken from a sign painted on a gable wall in the Bogside in January 1969 which read, "You are now entering Free Derry". The area, which included the Bogside and Creggan neighbourhoods, was secured by community activists for the first time on 5 January 1969 following an incursion into the Bogside by members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). Residents built barricades and carried clubs and similar arms to prevent the RUC from entering. After six days the residents took down the barricades and RUC patrols resumed, but tensions remained high over the following months. (en)
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