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La Mon Restaurant bombing
Location near Belfast, Northern Ireland
Date 17 February 1978
21.00 (GMT)
Attack type Bombing
Weapon(s) Incendiary bomb
Death(s) 12
Injured 30
Perpetrator Provisional Irish Republican Army

The La Mon Restaurant Bombing was an attack by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) in 1978. It has been described as "one of the worst atrocities" to occur in Northern Ireland.[1][2]


The bombing

On 17 February 1978 IRA members planted an incendiary bomb outside the window of the Peacock Room in the restaurant of the La Mon Hotel complex near Belfast. After planting the bomb, the IRA members attempted to issue a telephone warning but the public telephone box had been vandalised.[3] They were then stopped by an Ulster Defence Regiment patrol. After passing through the checkpoint they issued a telephone warning to the Royal Ulster Constabulary, and the bomb exploded nine minutes later killing twelve people.[3] A further thirty people were injured by the blast, many of them critically. Some were still receiving treatment 20 years later.[4]

The device was an experimental design in which a small blast bomb was taped to the window of the restaurant, and attached to two large petrol canisters, each filled with a home-made napalm-like substance made of petrol and sugar, designed to stick to whatever it hit, a combination which caused much more severe burn injuries on the victims than those suffered in a conventional attack.[4] According to a published account by retired RUC Detective Superintendent Kevin Sheehy, this type of device had already been used by the IRA in more than one hundred attacks on commercial premises when it was employed at the La Mon restaurant.[5]

Provisional IRA responsibility

The day after the explosion, the IRA admitted that the blast was its responsibility, and apologised for the inadequate warning. Twenty suspected members, including Gerry Adams, were arrested on suspicion of involvement in the explosion, but none has ever been convicted of causing the blast.[6]

The reason for the attack on this target has never been explained, but the building was known to be used primarily by Protestant clientèle, and indeed all the victims were Protestants, as well as members of the Irish Collie Club and the Northern Ireland Junior Motor Cycle Club, which were staging meetings in the room. One of the victims of the blast was an off-duty police officer, although he is not believed to have been a particular target.

The then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Roy Mason, who was criticised by loyalists for his complacent attitude to the attack, claimed that the explosion was "an act of criminal irresponsibility" performed "by remnants of IRA gangs", and that the IRA was on the decline.[4]

Calls for inquiry

In 2002, there was a resurgence of interest in the case when the British Parliament considered opening up a new inquiry to discover the culprits. These plans have so far come to nothing.


  1. ^ RTÉ News: 1978 La Mon bombing commemorated in Belfast
  2. ^ La Mon House Hotel Bombing: 13 Feb 2003: House of Commons debates (
  3. ^ a b Bishop, Patrick & Mallie, Eamonn (1987). The Provisional IRA. Corgi Books. p. 336. ISBN 0-552-13337-X.  
  4. ^ a b c BBC On This Day
  5. ^ Sheehy,Kevin (2008). More Questions Than Answers. Gill and MacMillan. p. 40. ISBN 0-717-14396-2.  
  6. ^ BBC News

External links

See also


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