Irish Republican News · December 14, 2011
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
RUC/UDR gang carried out showband massacre - report

Both the RUC police and the British Army’s Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) were directly involved in the Miami Showband massacre, according to a report by the North’s Historical Enquiries Team.

The showband was then one of the most popular music groups on the island.

An inquiry into the 1975 massacre has found for the first time that an agent of the RUC Special Branch police lead the death squad who almost wiped out the group.

“It has been particularly devastating for us to learn that, in all likelihood, one of those involved in the murders of our loved ones was an agent of RUC Special Branch,” said David O’Toole, a nephew of the music group’s lead singer Fran O’Toole.

“We intend to pursue this issue with the authorities in the North.”

The cabaret band had been travelling home to Dublin after a performance in Banbridge, County Down. The band’s minibus was stopped at a bogus military checkpoint seven miles (11 km) north of Newry.

The killers, dressed in full British Army uniform, ordered them out of their van and to line up by the roadside.

While two of the gunmen were hiding a time bomb on the minibus, it exploded prematurely. The gunmen then opened fire on the band members, killing three and wounding two.

Four of the gunmen were members of the British Army’s Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR). The atrocity was claimed by the paramilitary Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF).

“These dreadful murders absolutely tore apart our lives and those of our families,” Mr O’Toole told a press conference in Dublin today.

“They left two young women without their husbands and four very young children fatherless.”

Former band member Des McAlea, who managed to escape by fleeing across a field in the darkness, praised the families of those who were killed for their “patience and dignity” over the last 36 years.

“It’s been a long and winding road for all of them and for us,” Mr McAlea said.

The report was passed to the families and has not yet been made available to the public.

However, a spokesman for the Pat Finucane Centre campaign group said he could distribute the conclusions of the report, which pointed to infamous UVF killer Robin ‘the Jackal’ Jackson being an RUC Special Branch agent.

Jackson’s fingerprints were found on a silencer attached to a Luger pistol used in the murders.

The HET cold case unit found evidence he was later tipped off by an RUC detective superintendent and also by a detective sergeant, who warned him “to clear [go underground] as there was a wee job up the country that he would be done for.”

Stephen Travers, the band’s bass player, who survived by pretending to be dead, said the finding was alarming.

“We believe the only conclusion possible arising from the HET report is that one of the most prolific loyalist murderers of the conflict was an RUC Special Branch agent and was involved in the Miami Showband attack,” he said.

Sinn Fein’s John O’Dowd said that it was because of the actions of their agents like Jackson that the British Government does not want an independent international truth commission.

Mr O’Dowd said everyone knew that UVF man Robin Jackson was a British agent and that he was allowed to kill with impunity.

“It was well known that Robin Jackson was an agent for the British state, that he was allowed to kill Catholics with impunity throughout Mid-Ulster and beyond and that some of these killings were actually facilitated by the forces of the state.

“This speaks volumes about the British state’s involvement in the conflict and rather than claim, as they did, that they were impartial observers or some sort of peace keeper, they were in fact up to their necks in facilitating and possibly encouraging sectarian killings and much more.

“Many nationalists and republicans believe that it’s because of agents like Robin Jackson and many others that the British Government would not agree to an independent international truth commission.”

Another document released by the Pat Finucane Centre today confirmed that the British authorities at a senior level knew, from at least August 1973, that the UDR was heavily infiltrated by unionist paramilitaries.

The organisation pointed to the minutes of a meeting involving then British prime minister Harold Wilson, the future British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, who was then leader of the Opposition, and Merlyn Rees, who was then Britain’s Direct Ruler in the North.

Minutes of the meeting record that: “The army’s judgment was that the UDR was heavily infiltrated by extremist Protestants and in a crisis situation they could not be relied upon to be loyal”.

The minutes, taken by a Downing Street official, also record that “there were certain elements in the police who were very close to the UVF”.

The Pat Finucane Centre said it was “crystal clear from these communications that London was fully aware of wholesale loyalist infiltration of the UDR but was continuing to deny any concern to Dublin”.

We have a favour to ask

We want to keep our publication as available as we can, so we need to ask for your help. Irish Republican News takes time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we believe it makes a difference. If everyone who reads our website helps fund it, our future would be much more secure.

For as little as £1, you can support Irish Republican News – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.

© 2011 Irish Republican News