Memorial to bomb victims to be unveiled

The banner of Closkelt RBP 449 showing the preceptorys late Sir Knight William Herron, who was murdered along with his wife, Elizabeth and daughter Noeleen on 7th April 1976.
The banner of Closkelt RBP 449 showing the preceptorys late Sir Knight William Herron, who was murdered along with his wife, Elizabeth and daughter Noeleen on 7th April 1976.

A permanent memorial to three Dromore firebomb victims is to be unveiled 40 years to the day after the attack in which they died.

William Herron (64), his wife Elizabeth (58) and daughter Noeline (26) were killed on April 7, 1976 when the IRA planted an incendiary device in their Market Square drapery store.

The fire destroyed much of the shop and the family home above it, where the three victims died from suffocation.

Now, almost fully four decades later, final plans are being laid for a memorial dedication organised by Dromore Orange Hall Committee in conjunction with William and Elizabeth’s surviving children and their families.

William Herron was closely associated with the LoyalOrders (Closkelt RBP 449’s banner bears his image) whose members will gather at Dromore Orange Hall on April 7 for the unveiling of a granite memorial stone set in the wall at the front of the building.

An open invitation is extended to the public to attend the dedication, which will be followed by a memorial service in the Orange Hall. There will be no parade.

Two Portaferry sisters and a Downpatrick man were jailed in connection with the firebombing, he for 20 years on a manslaughter charge and the women – in 1980 and 1981 - for 12 years each, but in 1985, Secretary of State Douglas Hurd exercised the Royal Prerogative of Mercy to remit part of the women’s sentences.

It was in the run-up to the 30th anniversary of the attack that Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson lamented the government’s continuing refusal to release documents which would provide the Herron family with the reasons behind that decision, a refusal, he said, that compounded their sense of injustice t. Around the same time family members quizzed Historical Enquiries Team detectives on whether their investigations had uncovered any new evidence in respect of what Mr. Donaldson called “other members of the IRA gang who have not been apprehended”.

With the 40th anniversary of the attack a few weeks away, the family remains in the dark as to the full truth of what happened on April 7, 1976 and the reasons behind the early release of two of the convicted perpetrators.