Sunday 7 April 2019


The Provisional IRA firebombed a shop in the small town of Dromore, Co Down.  The shop was unmanned at the time, but the flat above it was not.  Three members of the same family perished in the inferno that followed.

The drapery store was one of two shops targeted by the IRA that night.  A similar device had been planted at a grocers in the nearby village of Dromara.  A police spokesman said the Protestant businesses had been targeted with "callous disregard for anyone who was living above the shop(s)".

The victims at Dromore all died from smoke inhalation.  William Herron, 64, was the shop owner and died along with his wife Elizabeth, 58, and daughter Noeleen, 27.  It was the worst atrocity suffered by the town during the Troubles.  A memorial plaque to the family was unveiled at Dromore Orange Hall in 2016, the 40th anniversary of their deaths.

William Herron at the wedding of one of his other daughters, Joy

In 1980 a 21-year-old man from Downpatrick was convicted of manslaughter in relation to the massacre.  A year later two sisters from Portaferry were sent down for the same crime.  Controversially they were released just four years later on the orders of the Northern Ireland Secretary Douglas Hurd, under the auspices of a Royal Prerogative.  No reason was given for the early release, leading to anger in the local community.  William Herron's son, who had reopened his father's gutted store, called it "a disgrace" and demanded the facts.  A Freedom of Information request was submitted by the family in 2006, but was denied, again without explanation.  Some speculated that the women were released in exchange for information on the Provos.