Belfast Telegraph

Service remembers La Mon massacre victims

By Ivan Little

A special service is being organised early in the new year to mark the 40th anniversary of the La Mon massacre.

Organisers have appealed to survivors and relatives of the 12 victims to contact them if they want to attend the commemoration.

A number of people who were caught up in the no warning IRA attack on the hotel in the Castlereagh Hills near Belfast moved away after the bombing, while others have died in the intervening years.

Those who have passed away include one of the most critically injured, Lily McDowell, who had campaigned for an inquiry into the massacre.

Officials from Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council are finalising plans for the commemorative service at Lagan Valley Island, in Lisburn, in February to remember the victims of the atrocity.

It is understood that a number of the La Mon families, including Mrs McDowell's husband Billy, have been working with representatives of the council in relation to the remembrance plans.

A council spokesman said: "We are appealing to any victims who are not already involved with, or aware of, these plans to please get in touch with the council directly."

Councillor Scott Carson, who sits on the working group organising the service, said: "For the victims and their families, the horror and tragedy of the bombing will never go away, and as a council we want to ensure that they continue to be remembered.

"We also know that it is a very personal decision for people as to whether they would want to attend the service, but what we want most is to make the occasion meaningful and memorable and to involve people who were affected, in a sensitive way."

The La Mon bomb on February 17, 1978, was one the most lethal ever assembled by the IRA.

The incendiary was attached to petrol-filled canisters on meat hooks and left outside the window of the Peacock Room at the hotel. The resulting fireball was likened to a napalm attack in Vietnam, ripping through the hotel which was packed with 450 people of all ages.

Most of the dead and injured were members of the Irish Collie Club who were holding their yearly dinner dance.

The next day the IRA admitted responsibility and apologised for the "inadequate" warning. The terrorists claimed that a telephone box which was to have been used to phone through a warning was out of order.

Gerry Adams was among 25 people who were arrested over the attack, though the Sinn Fein leader was subsequently released without charge.

West Belfast man Edward Manning Brophy was charged with all 12 murders, but was acquitted.

Another man, Robert Murphy, was given 12 life sentences for the manslaughter, but he was freed on licence in 1995.

Belfast Telegraph

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