Compensation Board insults victims
Compensation Board insults victims


One of the survivors of the infamous 1975 Miami Showband massacre has said he has been retraumatised after a British government victims board assessed his suffering at “3.8 out of 10” and offered him “insulting” compensation.

Bassist Stephen Travers was one of only two survivors when one of Ireland’s most popular cabaret acts, the Miami Showband, was massacred in a bloodbath as they travelled home to Dublin following a gig in July 1975.

British soldiers, acting in collusion with the unionist paramilitary UVF, stopped them at an unofficial checkpoint outside Newry, County Down.

Band members were made to line up at the side of the road while attempts were made to hide a bomb on the tour bus. The device exploded prematurely, killing some of the bombers.

Their accomplices then opened fire on the band, murdering lead singer Fran O’Toole, guitarist Tony Geraghty and trumpeter Brian McCoy. Mr Travers was injured but survived the atrocity along with saxophonist Des Lee.

An out-of-court settlement for Mr Travers was agreed by the State in December 2021. But his lawyer – Kevin Winters of KRW LAW – said the lack of admission of liability or apology had left a “residual annoyance” that justice was not fully served.

He launched an appeal on behalf of Mr Travers on the “paltry sum” recently awarded to him by the Victims Payments Board, the body set up to determine compensation applications for victims of the conflict.

“The Board informed Stephen that his payment would be cut substantially because he was ‘awarded’ a financial figure in relation to his previous High Court damages claim,” said Mr Winters.

“We know that clearly wasn’t the position. The State can’t have it both ways by formally denying liability in a High Court collusion case and then cynically relying on that same litigation resolution to downgrade his Victims Payment.”

Mr Travers later tweeted: “Who gave The Victims’ Payment Board the right to ‘score’ the trauma I endured at, and for every day of my life since, The Miami Showband Massacre, and at which I was bombed and shot and watched my band mates slaughtered, as a 3.8 out of 10 on their ‘Trauma Scale’? How dare they?”

Mr Travers said he had been retraumatised by the process.

“As a Troubles victim entering into my swansong years, I shouldn’t be put in this position,” he said.

“It was bad enough with all the stress of suing the State for collusion that happened to me and my colleagues. Now I have to go through this all again to fight for a reasonable award.

“The sum offered to me is downright insulting. No victim or survivor should have to be put through this. It’s as if I’m now being penalised for having successfully sued the State in my case.

“They’re now effectively taking back from me the payment they reluctantly made to me in 2021. It’s demeaning and demoralising. I’ve been left with no choice but to appeal.”

Other victims said they had also been retraumatised by the assessment process, which is carried out by video link can last several hours.

Some victims suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder were advised that a failure to complete the process would negatively impact on their application.

Loughinisland massacre survivor Colm Smyth revealed he had been awarded just £44 per week, despite having been injured during a horror loyalist paramilitary slaughter in 1994.

Mr Smyth was shot four times when members of the UVF burst into O’Toole’s pub in the County Down village and killed six Catholics using assault rifles. Those gathered in the pub had been innocently watching the World Cup group game between Ireland and Italy. The RUC were later found to have engaged in collusion and cover-up in relation to the attack.

Mr Smyth’s case was given a score of 2.0 out of 10 on the trauma scale. The County Down man described his almost three-hour video call assessment by the Victimes Board as an “interrogation”.

“It is a disgrace,” he wrote. “I was shot four times and watched six men get murdered. I’ve endured 30 years of PTSD. Every applicant should publish their judgement to show this travesty for the insult it is.”

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