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Tommy Herron (1938 - 15 September 1973) was a loyalist paramilitary in Northern Ireland.

Herron worked as a car salesman[1] in East Belfast[2] and joined the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), a loyalist paramilitary group. From 1972, he was the organisation's vice chairman and most prominent spokesperson,[1] and was the first person to receive a salary from the UDA.[2]

In September 1972, the British Army intervened to defend a Roman Catholic area of Larne against loyalists. Army vehicles ran down two civilians in East Belfast,[3] one of whom was believed to be a UDA member.[4] Under the name of the Ulster Citizen Army, Herron declared war on the British Army. He called this off after two days of gunfire due to a lack of support,[1][5] two more loyalists having been killed. To many people's surprise, Herron subsequently called for "both sides" - loyalists and republicans - to stop assassinations, claiming that if they did not, they would face "the full wrath of the UDA". This temporarily halted killings in East Belfast.[3]

Herron stood as a Vanguard Progressive Unionist Party candidate in East Belfast at the Northern Ireland Assembly election, 1973. He took 2,480 votes, but was not elected.[6]

In January 1973, Charles Harding Smith attempted to take over the UDA, and a loyalist feud ensued.[1] In February, Herron called for a general strike against the British Government's decision to introduce internment for suspected loyalist parliamilitaries, mirroring the existing internment for suspected republican parliamilitaries. This led to a day's fighting on the streets.[7] In what was widely suspected to be an attempt on Herron's life, his brother was killed in June. Herron was kidnapped in September and shot dead.[1] His body was found in a ditch near Drumbo, County Antrim. His death has often been ascribed to other members of the UDA, either in protest at his involvement in racketeering or as part of the ongoing feud,[8] while the UDA itself has claimed that the Special Air Service was responsible.[3]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e Michael Farrell, Northern Ireland: The Orange State
  2. ^ a b Tommy Herron, MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base
  3. ^ a b c Ciaran De Baroid, Ballymurphy and the Irish War
  4. ^ David Boulton, The UVF, 1966-73: An Anatomy of Loyalist Rebellion
  5. ^ Alex P. Schmid and Albert J. Jongman, Political Terrorism
  6. ^ East Belfast 1973-82, Northern Ireland Elections
  7. ^ Jason Lewis, "The day the General's guts won the MC", Daily Mail, 14 October 2006
  8. ^ A Chronology of the Conflict - 1973, CAIN Web Service
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