Wednesday 18 September 2019

Atrocities of Troubles being forgotten, says Miami band survivor

Stephen Travers survived the 1975 massacre in Co Down. Picture: Provision
Stephen Travers survived the 1975 massacre in Co Down. Picture: Provision
Laura Lynott

Laura Lynott

Miami Showband survivor Stephen Travers fears the atrocities of the Troubles are being "forgotten" in both Ireland and the UK.

Mr Travers, who witnessed the murders by the UVF of three bandmates, said he had backed the making of a Netflix documentary about the incident to keep the memory alive.

Mr Travers was present during one of the worst atrocities of the Troubles, when his three friends, musicians from the band, were murdered by the Ulster Volunteer Force on July 31, 1975 in Co Down.

'ReMastered: The Miami Showband Massacre' was released on Netflix earlier this year and Mr Travers, the former editor of the 'Irish World' newspaper, said immediately it started trending globally.

"In 2005, on the 30th anniversary of the Miami Showband incident, we decided to run a concert in Vicar Street and I thought it was a given everyone would turn up to this," Mr Travers said.

"One of the young people at the meeting discussing it, was the son of one of our lads killed. He said, 'Do you think anyone will come?'

"I said, 'Of course they will, it's the Miami Showband, everyone knows what happened'. "I rang RTÉ about it and I spoke to a lady and said, 'We are putting on a concert and we need you to get behind this.'

"The researcher at the 'Late Late Show' said 'The Miami Showband, is that a new band?'

"If we were to put half a dozen young people at the top of Grafton Street today with a questionnaire and ask 'what year do you think the Dublin bombings took place?' 99pc wouldn't know.

"It's not their fault. We put all these things out of our minds but we must agitate."

Mr Travers, from Carrick on Suir, Co Tipperary, spoke at the Danielle Carroll Summer School in Dublin on Saturday - an event held in memorial of the young mother who took her own life in August 2017 after suffering a period of homelessness with her family. He told how he'd tried to get the story of the terror atrocity out in the UK but he felt there was "censorship" taking place.

"In 2007 we tried to push... a story that's apparently become forgotten," he said.

"I said, 'Let's push this book in the UK because everyone in Ireland has forgotten it at this stage'. I was told for every reason they would not publish the book in the UK.

"I felt there was some obvious censorship there. I said 'I'm going to go to Hollywood'. This year, the Netflix documentary of the Miami Showband has trended all over the world."

Mr Travers said he also felt homelessness in Ireland was being forgotten today.

"There are so many parallels between homelessness and terrorism because to be homeless is a terrifying prospect. "I'd go so far as to say homelessness is terrorism perpetrated by people who do nothing about it.

"The result of being a victim of terrorism is a feeling of feeling defeated, being oppressed, feeling useless, having failed in your life. And all these things also go hand in glove with the feeling of someone lying in the street or living in temporary accommodation."

Irish Independent

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