Secrecy bid over Miami Showband massacre

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The British Crown Forces are refusing to release documents relating to top loyalist paramilitary Robin ‘The Jackal’ Jackson, a former British soldier linked to the Miami Showband massacre and other suspected acts of collusion.

Three members of the popular band were taken from their tour bus and shot dead on a country road after a gig in Banbridge, County Down in July 1975. Jackson, who died in 1998, had been linked by fingerprints to one of the murder weapons used in the massacre. He had been a member of the British Army’s Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR).

Victims of the attack are suing both the British Ministry of Defence and PSNI police over suspected collaboration between serving soldiers and the UVF paramilitary killers.

A British government minister is to decide whether to grant requests by the British Army and PSNI for ‘Public Interest Immunity’ (PII) orders to suppress the material on Jackson and related collusion within the UDR.

Military chiefs defending the legal action have claimed documents on the soldiers involved have also been destroyed. The lawyer representing survivors and relatives of murdered group members said he had been told material on vetting and training UDR soldiers linked to the atrocity had been destroyed more than a decade ago, but had been given no other explanation.

The band had been travelling in their van to Dublin when a fake British army patrol made up of UDR soldiers and UVF members stopped them at a bogus checkpoint outside Newry. Band members were made to line up at the side of the road while attempts were made to hide a bomb on the van.

The device exploded prematurely, killing some of the would-be bombers. Their accomplices then opened fire on the band, murdering lead singer Fran O’Toole, guitarist Tony Geraghty and trumpeter Brian McCoy. Two other band members, Des McAlea and Stephen Travers, were also injured but survived.

Survivor Stephen Travers said of the development: “The only response from British authorities to the charge of murdering three members of the Miami Showband and the attempted murder of two others is to run and hide behind a PII cert. Any British minister who grants them this cert will be complicit in the crime.”

He added: “Until the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland stops hiding the files on Robin Jackson, the mass-murderer and butcher of my band-mates, I will have no option but to view them both as two sides of the same coin.”

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