Tuesday 16 October 2018

British army files on soldiers accused of collusion over Miami Showband massacre 'destroyed'

Miami Showband members (left to right) Brian McCoy, Fran O’Toole, Des Lee, Stephen Travers, Tony Geraghty and (sitting in front) Ray Miller
Miami Showband members (left to right) Brian McCoy, Fran O’Toole, Des Lee, Stephen Travers, Tony Geraghty and (sitting in front) Ray Miller

Alan Erwin

Military chiefs defending a legal action over alleged collusion with loyalist terrorists behind the Miami Showband massacre have claimed any documents on soldiers involved have been destroyed, a lawyer said yesterday.

The solicitor representing survivors and relatives of murdered group members said he has been told material on vetting and training Ulster Defence Regiment recruits linked to the atrocity would have been scrapped more than a decade ago - if it ever existed.

Michael Flanigan also confirmed both the Ministry of Defence and PSNI are seeking to stop the disclosure of some intelligence files on Public Interest Immunity grounds.

Victims of the terrorist attack are suing both the MoD and PSNI over alleged collaboration between serving soldiers and the killers.

Three members of the popular band were taken from their tour bus and shot dead on a country road after a gig in Banbridge, Co Down in July 1975.

The group was travelling home to Dublin when a fake 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 bus.

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 were also injured but survived.

In 2011, a report by the Historical Enquiries Team raised collusion concerns around the involvement of an RUC Special Branch agent.

It found that notorious UVF boss Robin 'The Jackal' Jackson, a one-time UDR member who died in 1998, had been linked to one of the murder weapons by fingerprints.

Jackson, a suspected RUC Special Branch agent linked to scores of murders, was charged with possession of a silencer attached to a pistol but was later acquitted.

Two serving members of the UDR were, however, eventually convicted for their part in the attack.

Another member of the regiment was also killed at the scene of the atrocity, according to lawyers for the victims.

Belfast Telegraph

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