U2 & Miami Showband in Belfast

A lot has changed since U2 last played Belfast, in 1997. Heck, a lot has happened since U2 last played a gig.

The Irish rock legends had just completed two nights of a four-night run in Paris last week when Islamic State terrorists struck the French capital. The band’s remaining shows were called off.

Last night, the band returned to live action in a city that has witnessed its own share of bloodshed over the years.

The SSE Arena must be amongst the smallest venues the supergroup has played in years. And they were determined to create an intimate atmosphere.

Bono entered from the back of the hall, striding along a walkway and holding his fist aloft triumphantly, before joining the Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen on stage.

“We’re a band from the northside of Dublin called U2, formerly the Hype,” he announced.

The foursome were welcomed like heroes, and the feeling was mutual.

Opening track ‘The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)’ harked back to the days before U2 had ventured outside Dublin. But even then, they were tuned into the news coming from the North.

“What was happening up here made a big impact in our teenage years,” Bono said.

The first few numbers were played punk-style, four guys in a row, blasting it out. The jolting riffs of ‘Vertigo’ had the whole arena bouncing, while a massive ‘I Will Follow’ got everyone singing along. And ‘Iris (Hold Me Close)’ was a deeply personal tribute to Bono’s late mother.

But it wouldn’t be a U2 show without some grand spectacle, and the video screens were soon sparking into life.

‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ saw a procession of murals from both loyalist and republican areas, alternating with the slogan ‘Remember the victims’.

And despite the events of the past week, the band didn’t flinch from using explosive sound effects and a striking car bomb graphic to introduce ‘Raised by Wolves’.

Nor did they drop the controversial video footage they have been using during the song itself. A roll call of notorious Northern Ireland terrorist atrocities played out on screen, from the Miami Showband Massacre to the Omagh bombing.

If things could get a bit heavy at times, the quartet also knew when to switch gears into big, roof-raising hits.

An Italian fan was hauled on stage to dance with Bono for ‘Mysterious Ways’, while ‘With or Without You’ closed the main set in epic fashion.

It may have been a difficult few days for U2 – for the world – but last night proved you can’t keep a good band down.

Irish Independent

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Anton Savage Show on Today FM

The Miami Showband Massacre 40 years on – Truth, Justice and U2

Stephen Travers and Des McAlea joined Anton for a moving interview

Steven Travers and Des McAlea – survivors of the Miami Showband Massacre in July 1975 – joined Anton for a moving interview, recalling that fateful journey home from a gig, and how Bono and U2 could help their fight for justice – 40 years on.

Des and Stephen were upset recently to hear Bono say the shocking Paris attackers had made a “the first direct attack on music” when terrorists targeted the Eagles of Death Metal gig at The Bataclan. The duo tweeted to say Bono had failed to remember the Miami Showband attack, in which killed three members of the popular group were killed by as many as ten ‘soldiers’. The bands name was included on a screen film shown at recent U2 concerts during the moving ‘Raised by Wolves’ song, and whilst the band are grateful for that, they want U2 (and Bono in particular) to help them in their 40 year fight for truth and justice.

They want Bono to use his influence to get the files released on both the Miami Massacre as well as Dublin Monaghan bombings (it is alleged carried out by one of the same bombers). They said they would be happy to meet Bono and band, maybe even join him and U2 on stage as one the original victims of a terror attack against music 40 years ago.

As a gesture of solidarity, they want the audience at U2’s Dublin gigs on Friday and Saturday to raise three fingers during the gig to remember their fallen band members Fran O’Toole, Tony Geraghty and Brian McCoy.

They remembered happy times as one of the biggest bands in Ireland in the late 1960’s and early 70’s, a happy life ‘blind to the border’ playing gigs north and south. And movingly, they spoke about the attack which claimed the lives of their three band members. They vividly recalled the attacks. “The whole world went red” said Stephen, who says 40 years on he can “still feel the grass on the side of my face” from where he lay as his band mates were shot to death in a field beside him. Des McAlea says he can never forget Fran O’Toole (whom Phil Lynott called “the Greatest Soul Singer Ireland ever produced“), guitarist Tony Geraghty and trumpeter Brian McCoy.

The men bravely spoke of the investigations that followed the attack, collusion, enquiries, forgiveness, of carrying the burden, visiting one of the killers, memorials, and as well as their hopes to have all the files on the case released,  their hopes to truly make the world a better place.

For more, see the band’s official website and a number of petitions are currently active here, here and here 

The band can also be followed on Twitter.

We had a massive reaction to the interview on the text machine, email and on Twitter, Here was some of it.

 

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RTE 1 Sunday With Miriam

Sunday 3rd August 2014
Miriam O’Callaghan presents a live stimulating mix of lifestyle, music, human interest and great interviews, the perfect soundtrack to your Sunday morning.
Guests this week:
David Puttnam – Oscar winning Producer and Director.
Stephen Travers – As this week marked the anniversary of the Miami Showband massacre, Miriam spoke to one of the surviving band members; Stephen Travers about his memories of that night, about questions unanswered and about his life since then.
Moya Brennan of Clannad and her daughter Aisling Jarvis were in studio to chat and perform.

RTE1 with Miriam

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Stephen Travers on BBC Radio Ulster

“Let’s make sure the world knows about it” – Stephen Travers.
Stephen Travers On BBC Radio Ulster

In response to the Moygashel Culture Group putting up in Moygashel, Northern Ireland a banner memorialising Wesley Somerville, one of the Miami Showband bombers who was blown up by a bomb he was attempting to plant in the Miami Showband tour bus on 31st July 1975, Stephen Travers thanked those that had put it up as it opened the door to a discussion and asked the question “who are your heroes?”

Link to the Stephen Nolan page on BBC Radio Ulster

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Clap Your Hands – Movie Trailer02

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Stephen Travers of The Miami Showband on Radio Foyle

Enda McClafferty interviews Stephen Travers on Radio Foyle.

Enda: “Survivors of The Miami Showband Massacre say they have issued court proceedings against The Ministry of Defence and the Police (Service of Northern Ireland) after new evidence in the case came to light. It was 38 years ago today when 3 members of the band were killed by Loyalists after a gig in Banbridge. Last year a Historical Enquiries Team investigation raised disturbing questions about collusive and corrupt behaviour in the attack. The families and survivors say their fight to get to the truth will continue. Stephen Travers is one of the survivors. Stephen, good morning to you.”

Stephen: “Good morning”

Enda: “So what then did the HET unearth which is now the basis for this legal action that you have mounted?”

Stephen: “Well. the evidence we see both from the HET and evidence we have unearthed ourselves is quite shocking and I suppose I can give you a taste of what to expect in our forthcoming legal action. Here’s an example of how British official policy deliberately colluded with terrorism and directly assisted in countless murders. In 1973 it was decided to expand the intelligence gathering role of the UDR. (Note: The Ulster Defence Regiment which was the largest regiment in the British Army) We have in our possession a document marked ‘SECRET – UK EYES’ which was copied to the highest ranking officials in Northern Ireland including the Secretary of State and dated April 17th 1974 and this was part of what it says, ‘I should stress that under these proposals the UDR’s collecting role will be directed at intelligence on terrorist activities. There is no intention of recruiting or encouraging members of the UDR to become informers on subversive elements within the UDR although as you know subversion in the UDR is a cause for concern. Both the GOC and Commander UDR would be strongly averse to any proposal to task members of the UDR in this way.’ Now, here we have the highest ranking officials clearly stating that should members of the UDR have knowledge of active terrorists within their ranks they are not to report them.

Enda: “Hmmm”

Stephen: “It begs the question what kind of civilised society issues a document like this or what kind of civilised society hands out knighthoods to these criminals and honours them at state banquests? Instead of being feted at garden parties in Buckingham Palace they should be standing trial at The Hague for war crimes.”

Enda: “What do you hope this legal action is going to achieve then Stephen… against the Ministry of Defence?”

Stephen: “The truth. The truth is the DNA of civilisation and there is no way you can have genuine peace or reconciliation without the truth. You can’t just keep on putting a gloss over things and say isn’t it wonderful that we have peace. You won’t have genuine peace without people knowing exactly what happened and therefore being able to rectify it and not allow it to happen again.”

Enda: “Is it an expensive course of action to go down for you and the other survivors?”

Stephen: “Well, it’ll be far more expensive for society not to do this. This is probably as close as we will get to a Public Enquiry but it’s worth it. It’s been a long time coming. It’s actually disgusting to see this but if you bear in mind as well that there were Catholics and Protestants, Northerners and Southerners who were murdered by these criminals so we’re not standing up for any particular side or tradition this is for everybody.”

Enda: “Ok, Stephen we’ll leave it there but thank you for talking to us on the programme this morning.”

Stephen: “Thank you.”

Enda: “Stephen Travers there who survived The Miami Showband Massacre”

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Stephen Travers on Cork 96FM

31st July 2013: On the 38th anniversary of The Miami Showband Massacre Stephen Travers talks with Neil Prendeville of Cork’s 96FM radio of his musical memories of Fran O’Toole, Brian McCoy and Tony Geraghty and about the time he was introduced to Johnny Fean of Horslips by Rory Gallagher in the company of Van Morrison.

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Stephen Travers on Good Morning Ulster

31st July 2013: Stephen Travers is interviewed on Good Morning Ulster about the issuance of the writ against the British Ministry Of Defence and Police Service of Northern Ireland in relation to the murder of members of The Miami Showband.

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Remembering 31st July

31st July 2015 marks the 40th anniversary of the Miami Showband tragedy.

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Rory Gallagher – World Exclusive

Rory Gallagher “performs” this unique version of “Hands Off” with young Irish band “The Deans”. Produced in 2007 by former Miami Showband bass-guitarist, Stephen Travers, this recording was made possible through the kindness of Rory’s brother, Donal, in loaning Rory’s multi-track for the project. Through the miracles of modern technology and the technical skill of Sun Street Studios engineer, Kenny Ralph, Rory trades vocals and guitar licks here with a teenage Gavin Dean.


[wpaudio url=”http://www.themiamishowband.com/wp-content/uploads/audio/rorygallagher.mp3″ text=”Rory Gallagher & The Deans Hands Off Producer Stephen Travers” dl=”0″]

Stephen Travers produced this track in appreciation for Rory’s generosity to “The Miami Showband Fund” following the murder of Rory’s fellow Irish musicians in what has become known as
The Miami Showband Massacre.




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Thatcher and the UVF

As Margaret Thatcher is laid to rest we www.patfinucanecentre.org thought it appropriate to publish two documents we found in the British National Archives. Both have been published before in the chapter we contributed to a book on loyalist infiltration of the UDR.

The first document contains the minutes of a meeting between the then head of the Conservative opposition in 1975 (Margaret Thatcher) and the then Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, just weeks after the Miami Showband Massacre involving members of the UDR. At page 3 the following fascinating admission is made, the Secretary of State said….

‘Unfortunately there were certain elements in the police who were very close to the UVF, and who were prepared to hand over information, for example, to Mr Paisley. The Army’s judgement was that the UDR was heavily infiltrated by extremist Protestants, and that in a crisis situation they could not be relied on to be loyal.’

Let no-one claim that the levels of collusion between the RUC, UDR and loyalist paramilitaries was not known at the highest levels of the British Government and opposition.

The second document also concerns the UVF only by this stage, 1979, Thatcher is the Prime Minister. In a hand written note she urged mention of the ‘Volunteer Ulster Defence Regiment (? Is that the name)’. Her officials clearly had difficulty reading her handwriting and the typed version of her comment reads.

(viii) The Prime Minister would also like to see some reference to the valiant work being carried by the Ulster Volunteer Force.

Apparently neither she not her officials were fully cognisant of the difference between the UDR, (? Is that the name) the largest Regiment in the British army, and the UVF, a loyalist paramilitary group. On this point at least she found herself in agreement with the nationalist/republican community.

See www.patfinucanecentre.org to access the original docs-click on the moving newsbar

PFC

Wilson Thatcher meeting 1975

Thatcher and the UVF

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The Book

The book that took 30 years to write

11th September 2007. Former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds is one of the guest speakers at The Miami Showband Massacare book launch, an eye-witness account written by Stephen Travers. The book was co-written by Neil Featherstonhaugh and is published by Hachette Ireland.

Miami Showband Massacre

Extract from The Miami Showband Massacre

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The Miami Showband’s Stephen Travers speaks at Omagh victims conference

John Azah OBE, Michael Gallagher (who lost his son in the Omagh bomb), former Beirut hostage Terry Waite, Stephen Travers (survivor of the Miami Showband Massacre) and Clive McCombe (who lost his wife Anne in the Omagh bomb)

By Shelley Marsden

MIAMI Showband massacre survivor Steve Travers and former hostage Terry Waite last week gave their support to victims still scarred by the Omagh bombing and other survivors of terrorism.

Omagh Support and Self Help Group hosted the annual International Victims of Terrorism Conference on June 12-13, as a partner in the Network of Associations of Victims of Terrorism (NAVT).

This is the first time the event, which took place at the Ulster American Folk Park and whose theme this year was Lessons Learned, was hosted in Ireland.

Steve Travers opened the ceremony. He said, “To deliver the opening speech was one of the greatest honours I’ve ever received and I am grateful to The Omagh Support and Self Help Group for that.”

“I struck up an instant rapport with Terry Waite and we talked at length, not only about the incidents, but their root causes and why it’s essential that they be understood and tackled as a priority.”

One of the surviving members of the Miami Showband killings at Bushkill, Co Down on July 31, 1975, Travers said of the event, “I learned an awful lot. I thought it would just be people getting stuff off their chests, but people really do help each other – it was an extremely worthwhile exercise, bringing pressure to bear on various governments around the world.”

As part of his very moving address to delegates about his experiences of terrorism at first-hand, Travers spoke of a recent visit to Ground Zero in New York:

“I have always, in so far as I could, acted independently, ploughed my own furrow, made my own decisions and acted alone in my personal battle with terrorism. I reasoned that each unique experience required a unique response!”

“However, two weeks ago, I visited The World Trade Centre in New York: The new skyscrapers are impressive, the memorial, located on the site of the former Twin Towers, is certainly impressive but what impressed me most was the world-wide community that is now attached to the little church that played such a vital role in the rescue effort following the 9/11 terrorist attack.”

“More than any other memorial to that terrible event, St. Paul’s collection of badges, banners, emblems and messages of support is, for me, the focus of genuine empathy and unity with the victims of that awful crime. Today, I realise that you are the embodiment of St. Paul’s church and I am a willing convert.”

A total of thirty one people (including two unborn children) died in the Omagh bombing, almost 14 years ago now. The worst atrocity in the history of the Troubles, it affected the lives of hundreds of people.

The victims conference saw victims and survivors of terrorism throughout Europe and the U.S.share their experiences and discuss best practice around the EU on the legal, health-care and social and psychological support for Victims of Terrorism from public and private organisations, expressing solidarity in particular to those currently suffering in Syria.

Delegates to Omagh visited the Memorial Garden and the Window of Hope in Omagh Library.

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Irish World – Miami Showband 25th Dec 2011

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Clap Your Hands

Courtesy Barry Woods

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