|Front Page | Northern Ireland | The search for peace|
The story of the Maze began when the Northern Ireland government introduced internment without trial to deal with escalating violence in 1971.
Ministers backed by London, decided to use the Special Powers Act in an attempt to take those it believed responsible for violence off the streets.
Security forces launched Operation Demetrius with a dawn raid on republican areas for 452 known or suspected members of the IRA on 9 August 1971.
The police and army arrested 342 suspects. Northern Ireland Prime Minister Brian Faulkner said that the aim was to smash the IRA.
But most key IRA members had escaped and within 48 hours a third of those arrested were released.
The arrests led to serious rioting and 23 people lost their lives within three days. But internment stayed in place and by the eve of direct rule from London in 1972, the internees numbered 924. The vast majority of them were housed in long huts at a disused airfield at Long Kesh, near Lisburn - the site that would become HM Prison Maze.
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