It will soon be the 35th Anniversary of the La Mon bomb outrage, one of the most horrific terrorist attacks in the IRA campaign of terror in Northern Ireland.
Some of our readers live overseas and may not know anything about this terrible incident, so for their information, here follows a description of the events of that night, and this info is all available on the Internet.
In 1978, the La Mon was a hotel/restaurant near Belfast. On the night of 17th February, 1978, there were 450 people in the hotel/restaurant, including hotel guests and staff.
The Irish Collie Club and the NI Junior Motorcycle Club were holding their annual dinner dances in the Peacock and Gransha Rooms respectively.
The Provisional IRA (Provos,) planted an incendiary bomb, attached to petrol-filled canisters on meat hooks, outside the window of the Peacock Room.
This type of device had already been used by the IRA in more than 100 attacks on commercial buildings before the La Mon attack, according to a published account by a retired RUC (Police) Detective Superintendent.
The bombers tried to send a warning about the bomb but, according to them, the telephone box had been vandalised. Then they state that they were stopped at a checkpoint by an Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR,) a regiment within the British Army.
By the time a bomb warning was received by Police, it was too late! The bomb exploded at 9pm!
The explosion created a fireball 40 feet high and 60 feet wide. Twelve people were killed (seven of them women) and 30 were injured, many critically. It took almost two hours for firemen to put out the blaze.
Eleven Protestant civilians and one Police Officer died that night. Most of the dead and injured were members of the Irish Collie Club and the NI Junior Motorcycle Club.
During the Police hunt for the bombers, a poster was circulated by the Police to shock people into coming forward with information. The poster was heartbreaking and terrifying because it showed the charred remains of one of the victims and it contained these words,
“This is what the bombers did to a human being.”
Two prosecutions followed the Police investigation. One Belfast man was charged with twelve murders but was acquitted. He was convicted of IRA membership but successfully appealed.
In September, 1981, another Belfast man was given twelve life sentences for the manslaughter of those who died. He was freed on licence in 1995 and died in 2006.
The families of the victims want a full Public Inquiry into the bombing as they are not satisfied with the report of the H.E.T (Historical Enquiries Team,) as it did not tell them anything they did not already know.
We will conclude this post with the names and ages of the victims, and we trust that soon, all those responsible for this wicked bombing atrocity will finally be brought to justice.
Sarah Cooper (52)
Gordon Crothers (30)
Joan Crothers (26)
Christine Lockhart (33)
Daniel Magill (37)
Ian McCracken (25)
Elizabeth McCracken (25)
Carol Mills (26)
Sandra Morris (27)
Thomas Neeson (52)
Paul Nelson (37)
Dorothy Nelson (34)