The following is the victim impact statement delivered by Stephen Travers at Belfast High Court on Monday, 13 December, at the conclusion of the legal action against the British state for its role in the Miami Showband massacre.
It was a big deal for everyone in the beautiful market town of Carrick on Suir, under the shade of Sliabh na mBan, when ‘one of their own’ joined The Miami, and it was a thrill for me to be so warmly welcomed by the lads when I became their bass guitarist.
On the way to the gigs, I’d sit in the middle seat of our blue and white Volkswagen minibus, between Fran O’Toole and Tony Geraghty, talking about guitars and cars and keyboards and telling jokes and winding each other up and, on the way home, while the others slept, I would sit up front with Mall McCoy to keep him company and keep him awake while he drove the VW back home to Dublin. It was my great adventure.
I got to know all three of them very well; we became close friends. we confided in each other and trusted and relied on each other’s musical ability to make the band the best it could possibly be during the warm summer of ‘75.
I loved playing with them; it was a brilliant, exciting band.
I can still hear the clear, rich tone of Brian’s trumpet soaring above our musical arrangements and the superb quality of his voice when he delivered a ‘big ballad’ to his thousands of adoring fans.
Fran was an extraordinarily gifted musician and vocalist who oozed fun and charisma. Tony, our brilliant guitarist, was undoubtedly a genius and a master of many playing styles whose influence resonates among great Irish guitarists to this day. I miss him very much.
Sadly, my abiding memories of these three talented young men, that I had just been on stage with playing `Clap Your Hands, Stomp Your Feet’, are forever fused with the most horrific, ever-present images imaginable.
These following few words, from the late John Denver’s popular song, ‘Some Days Are Diamonds’, reflect the terrible, premature sadness that defined my life from the age of twenty four and the life of my beautiful, twenty-one year old wife, Anne, since the morning of July 31st 1975.
‘Now the face that I see in my mirror,
more and more is a stranger to me.
More and more I can see there’s a danger
in becoming what I never thought I’d be.
Some days are diamonds, some days are stone.
Sometimes the hard times won’t leave me alone.
Sometimes the cold winds blow a chill in my bones.
Some days are diamonds, some days are stone.’
I want to thank my solicitor, Michael Flanigan, and my barristers, Éilís McDermott and Donal Sayers, and thanks also to Brian Fee QC for their dogged determination to overcome every obstacle to get me here today. A special thanks to Sean O’Callaghan and all his colleagues at AIB, Douglas Road. Cork, for their support over the years. Most of all, my eternal love and gratitude go to my wife, Anne, and to our daughter, Dr. Sean Josephine Travers, for their unconditional love and support; I lived for them.