#OTD in 1975 – Miami Showband massacre | UVF volunteers (some of whom were also UDR soldiers) shot dead three members of an Irish showband at Buskhill, Co Down.

Three members of the Miami Showband are killed by Ulster Volunteer Force members posing as members of the security forces when returning from a performance at The Castle Ballroom in Banbridge, Co Down. (Four of the killers were actually members of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR), an official reserve force for the British army). At the time, the Miami Showband were one of the most popular musical acts in Ireland. The original plan was that the killers, dressed in security uniform, would plant a bomb on the band’s bus which would have gone off as they returned to Dublin, thus portraying the band as IRA supporters and bomb carriers. Two UVF men Harris Boyle and Wesley Somerville were blown to pieces when placing the bomb. In the carnage that followed, the UVF killed Miami band members Fran O’Toole, Brian McCoy and Tony Geraghty. Two band members survived.

Three UVF members were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. There is strong circumstantial evidence that there was collusion between the killers and some senior members of the security forces.

A monument at Parnell Square North, Dublin, dedicated to the dead Miami Showband members, was unveiled at a ceremony on 10 December 2007 attended by Lee and Travers. The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, said of O’Toole, McCoy and Geraghty:

“Their murder was an atrocity which had such a profound impact on everyone on this island. It is remembered with sadness to this very day….We remember the affection in which they were held by people the length and breadth of Ireland. Their popularity crossed all boundaries and all traditions. They simply wanted to entertain everyone who had a love of music. At a dark time, they were a shining light for so many.”

The Historical Enquiries Team (HET), which was set up to investigate the more controversial Troubles-related deaths, released its report on the Miami Showband killings to the victims’ families in December 2011. The findings noted in the report confirmed Mid-Ulster UVF leader Robin Jackson’s involvement and identified him as an RUC Special Branch agent.

A Netflix documentary was released 22 March 2019; highlighting the efforts of Steve Travers to track down who authorised the attack, for what purposes and to admit culpability.

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