The Social Development of Ireland
The contribution of Irish showbands to the social development of Ireland was important and immense. As our young people grew in confidence and asserted themselves in the twentieth century, their signature tune was undoubtedly played by the talented and enthusiastic young men and women that, night after night, reproduced the sounds of the era in the ballrooms throughout the length and breath of the country.
Times were innocent and exciting. Their journey mirrored and, sometimes, drove the musical taste of a young population. Some, like their fellow musicians in classical orchestras and traditional jazz bands, were content to cover the music of others while some attempted to incorporate their own original ideas, arrangements and compositions into their nightly repertoire. Naturally, “he who pays the piper calls the tune” and usually even the more adventurous showbands toed the line and played the familiar songs of the day.
One of the bands that managed to carry its audience along as it developed into a modern world class act was The Miami Showband. No other band in the world has the pedigree or history of The Miami Showband. Undoubtedly it has achieved mythical status and the names of its musicians are indelibly written into music and social folklore; its sacrifice forever burned into the soul of a country. Nevertheless, it would be all too easy to let the legend obscure the music; but it was the music that really mattered to the millions of people around the world that constitute “the Irish Diaspora” and loved The Miami Showband from the very beginning. During the sixties and seventies, hundreds of thousands of adoring fans packed the dance halls and concert venues throughout Ireland, the UK and the USA to catch a glimpse of and listen to The Miami Showband. This band, more than any other, embodied the popular music and style of their era.
It is universally accepted that The Miami Showband reached its artistic pinnacle while fronted by the young and outrageously talented Fran O’Toole. He had it all, a magnificent soulful voice, musical genius, fabulous image and a personality to match. He was accompanied by the very best young musicians in the country. Des Lee, Stephen Travers, Ray Millar, Tony Geraghty and Brian McCoy were loved by their countless fans and respected by their peers. They were unstoppable until fate intervened and took the young lives of Fran, Tony and Brian. It was indeed “The Day the Music Died”.
In 2005, at Vicar Street in Dublin, Stephen Travers, Des Lee and Ray Millar reformed The Miami Showband for what was described by the late great impresario Jim Aiken as “The Greatest Showband Concert Ever Staged”.
Among the artists on stage during the night were: Brendan Bowyer and his daughter, Brendan Bonass, Richie Buckley, Ronan Collins, Frank Colohan, Mike Hanrahan, Fr Brian Darcey, Donnie Deveney, Ronnie Drew, Keith Donald, Jim Farley, Red Hurley, Brian Harris, George Jones, Tony Kenny, The Memories, The Indians, Johnny Fean (Horslips) , Mick Rowley, Shaun O’Dowd, Derrick Mahaffey, The Conquerors, Pat Lynch, Brendan O’Brien, Declan Ryan, Kelly (Nevada), John Keogh, Brian Maguire, Jim McCann, Pat McCarthy ,Brendan Quinn, Shay Healy, The Strangers, Des Lee, Steve Travers, Paul Ashford and Bobby Kelly, etc..
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.
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern unveils The Miami Showband Memorial
10th December 2007
A memorial to the victims of the Miami Showband Massacre has been unveiled in Dublin by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern. Today’s unveiling of the monument at the former National Ballroom on Parnell Square North was attended by survivors of the massacre, Stephen Travers and Des McAlea. An inter-denominational prayer service was held with Catholic priest Fr Brian D’Arcy and Anglican rector, the Rev Robert Dean. Eurovision Song Contest winner and former MEP Dana Rosemary Scallon led the singing. A full transcript of the Taoiseach’s speech is below.
Speech by the Taoiseach, Mr. Bertie Ahern T.D. at the Unveiling of a Memorial to the members of the Miami Showband who were murdered on 31 July 1975. The speech was given at the Hugh Lane Gallery, Parnell Square on Monday 10 December, 2007 at 1.15 p.m.
I would like to thank the Lord Mayor and Ronan Collins for their words of welcome to us all today on this very special occasion. I am deeply honoured to be invited here to unveil this sculpture in memory of some very special people – the members of the Miami Showband who were cruelly murdered on 31 July 1975
Their murder was an atrocity which had such a profound impact on everyone on this island. It is remembered with sadness to this very day. We are here to remember and honour Tony Geraghty, Fran O’Toole and Brian McCoy. We are also here to pay tribute to their families and friends, and to the survivors of that awful attack, Stephen Travers and Des McAlea.
I would like to welcome Brian’s widow, Helen, the McCoy family, the Geraghty family, and the O’Toole family. I would like to especially welcome Rachel O’Toole, Dustin Shaw and Declan Shaw, Fran’s grandson, who have travelled from Canada. I am glad to be able to tell you in person today how well loved Fran, Tony and Brian were in Ireland – as people and as musicians who brought joy to so many people.
I have had the privilege of meeting many of you before.
You have told me of the awful events of that night and of the terrible impact it had on your lives ever since. You have explained the pain and loss you have suffered.
Stephen has very eloquently told me his story and the story of the Miami. He has in recent times told that story to a wider public audience. It is a story that needs to be told and be remembered.
I know there are others here today who lost loved ones in the Troubles.
Our thoughts and prayers are also with them. I know it is an especially difficult time of year coming up to Christmas. As we see the great progress in our country in recent years – the economic growth we see all around us in this city and the huge leaps forward in the North – it is sometimes hard to believe that thousands of people were killed and injured on our small island within living memory.
The stories of the families here with us today reflect that greater suffering.
It is a loss that is probably still too enormous for us to comprehend. But we must not – and we will not – forget their suffering.
That suffering is sharpened by the clear evidence of collusion by the security forces in many of these murders, as has been made clear by several reports over the years.
I know the quest for answers continues and I reiterate the Government’s support for the families in that quest. We will take another step when there is a full debate in the Dáil at the beginning of the new session in early February. These issues demand and deserve the attention of our National Parliament.
But that is for another day.
Today is about remembering the Miami Showband, in words and in music.
We remember the affection in which they were held by people the length and breadth of Ireland.
Their popularity crossed all boundaries and all traditions. They simply wanted to entertain everyone who had a love of music. At a dark time, they were a shining light for so many.
This very evocative sculpture recalls the youth, the talent and the popularity of Tony, Fran and Brian. It is also a tribute to those who survived and the strength of the bereaved families in coping with their loss.
I would like to thank Redmond Herrity for his wonderful work. I would also like to thank Margaret Urwin and the Justice for the Forgotten campaign for their work on behalf of victims; the Remembrance Fund Commission represented by David Andrews; and Dublin City Council. I know that there was a very special memorial service and a concert on the 30th Anniversary of the atrocity in 2005. This gave many friends, former colleagues and fans the opportunity to pay tribute to the band and to celebrate their work and their lives.
It was fitting that the Miami were remembered with music, as today we remember them with music and with art. It is fitting that they are remembered in this special place, in the heart of our capital city.
This is an emotional day, a day of sadness. But it is also a day of celebration and of immense pride.
In that spirit and in memory and celebration of the lives of Tony Geraghty, Fran O’Toole, and Brian McCoy, I am honoured to unveil this sculpture.
In 2007, following the publication of The Miami Showband Massacre, Tony Benn MP, Member of Parliament who served as Secretary of State for Energy in 1975, sent this message to Stephen Travers.
Anthony Neil Wedgwood “Tony” Benn, PC (born 3 April 1925) is a British Labour Party politician and a former MP and Cabinet Minister. His successful campaign to renounce his hereditary peerage was instrumental in the creation of the Peerage Act 1963. In the Labour Government of 1964–1970 under Harold Wilson, he served first as Postmaster General, where he oversaw the opening of the Post Office Tower, and later as a notably “technocratic” Minister of Technology, retaining his seat in the cabinet. In the period when the Labour Party was in opposition, Benn served for a year as the Chairman of the Labour Party. In the Labour Government of 1974–1979, he returned to the Cabinet, initially serving as Secretary of State for Industry, before being made Secretary of State for Energy, retaining his post when James Callaghan replaced Wilson as Prime Minister. During the Labour Party’s time in opposition during the 1980s, he was seen as the party’s prominent figure on the left, and the term “Bennite” has come to be used in Britain for someone of a more radical, left-wing position. Click the Wikipedia link for more information on Tony Benn MP.
The Miami Showband charity single Joy To The World.
The Miami perform Joy To The World in aid of The Ocean Road Cancer Institute in Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania, Africa. The Institute is the only hospital in East Africa that provides chemotherapy free of charge. Also included are The Huruma School for Disabled Children and Children In Crossfire. In a poor country children with disabilities are particularly vulnerable. Thanks to Stephen Travers, Gerry Brown, Ray Millar, Johnny Fean, Richard Moore.
The Dunamaise Arts Centre
Friday October 30th at 8.00 p.m.
in association with
The Cuisle Centre Cancer Support Group.
In aid of
The Cuisle Centre Cancer Support Group.
The Miami Showband
“The last of the great original Irish Showbands”
with special guest
(Formerly known as Ryan O’Rian)
Book on-line at www.dunamaise.ie
Box Office: 057 866 3355
Justice is the implementation of man-made laws.
Truth is the DNA of civilisation – Stephen Travers
14th December 2011. Today’s press conference in Dublin organised by Margaret Urwin of The Pat Finucane Centre / Justice For The Forgotten enabled survivors Stephen Travers and Des McAlea and the families of those murdered; Fran O’Toole, Brian McCoy and Tony Geraghty of The Miami Showband to give their reaction to the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Historical Enquiries Team report into The Miami Showband Massacre.
Nobody is saying every single member of the UDR engaged in collusion but what is clear is that there is a very systemic relationship between the UDR and loyalist paramilitaries and that the British government were compelled to put the facts in a classified document stating they would be disloyal to the government if shove came to push. What did the government do at the time? They did nothing. They let, they acquiesced in this and they let this occur and that’s appalling.
What we need is a (sic) today is one case and a hugely important case. What we need is an independent truth recovery process that addresses every incident in a collective way equally and addresses the whole issue of collusion, state violence and violence by other organisations.
Mary Wilson of RTE’s Drivetime
discusses with Paul O’Connor of The Pat Finucane Centre
the PSNI Historical Enquiries Team Report
into The Miami Showband Massacre.
(c) Copyright RTE – Get the latest RTE News on The Miami Showband massacre.
Mary Wilson of RTE’s Drivetime
discusses with Stephen Travers of The Miami Showband
the PSNI Historical Enquiries Team Report
into The Miami Showband Massacre.
(c) Copyright RTE - Get the latest RTE News on The Miami Showband massacre.
(c) Copyright The Three Amigos
RTE News – 14th December 2011
(c) Copyright RTE – Get the latest RTE News on The Miami Showband massacre.
UTV Live – 15th December 2011
(c) Copyright UTV – Get the latest UTV News on The Miami Showband massacre
The Morning Show – 22nd December 2011
(c) Copyright The Morning Show
Tonight With Vincent Brown
(c) Copyright Tonight With Vincent Brown
Documents relating to the HET Report
A critical finding in the HET report concerns the involvement of former UDR man (and UVF killer) Robin Jackson.
This short statement gives an outline of the evidence linking him to the Miami Showband killings. More detailed evidence is available to journalists on request from the PFC/JFF members at today’s press conference.
On Tuesday 18th May 1976, farmer, former “B. Special” and Ulster Service Corps member Edward Sinclair was arrested following the discovery of firearms, ammunition, explosives and bomb components on his land near Dungannon. The following day, a Luger pistol was also discovered at his farm along with a home-made silencer wrapped in black adhesive tape. A forensic examination of the gun, silencer and tape revealed two fingerprints, matching Jackson’s, on the silencer’s metal barrel.
The exhibit was then mistakenly labelled indicating the prints had been found on the TAPE (not the barrel).
Police made several abortive attempts between 20th and 30th May 1976 to arrest Jackson.
On May 31st, Jackson was arrested. The same day the corrected information reached a Detective Superintendent that Jackson’s fingerprints had been found, not on the tape, but on the silencer barrel.
The following day, this Detective Superintendent (and a Detective Constable) interviewed Jackson. Jackson denied ever having been on Sinclair’s farm (while admitting he knew him through a Loyalist Club in Portadown).
The Detective Superintendent placed the Luger, silencer and magazine (but not the tape) on the interview table. Jackson denied handling them.
The Detective Superintendent asked him if he could offer an explanation, should his fingerprints be found on either the pistol or the silencer (or both).
Jackson again denied he had handled the items but then volunteered information that, one night at the Portadown Loyalist club, Sinclair had asked him for some tape and: “l gave him part of the roll I was using in the bar” (Jackson’s words).
ln his subsequent statement, Jackson said that a Detective Sergeant and a Detective Superintendent (not those interviewing him) had told him on the 24th May (a week before his arrest) that his fingerprints had been found on tape on a silencer.
He went on to say that the same RUC officers had told him “l should clear as there was a …
On 2nd June 1976 Jackson was charged with possession of a’firearm, magazine, four rounds of ammunition and a silencer with intent to endanger life.
The silencer on which Jackson’s fingerprints were found was discovered with the Luger used in the attack on the Miami Showband.
Despite this significant new evidence, Jackson was not questioned regarding the Miami Showband attack. There is no evidence that the Miami inquiry team was even informed of these developments.
Clearly concemed, the Detective Superintendent’s prosecution report stated that Jackson knew, before his arrest, that his fingerprints had been found and was claiming a senior RUC officer had tipped him off about a week before his arrest.
This confidential internal RUC report stated that, if the allegation were true, it constituted a “grave breach of discipline and police confidentiality on the part of the officers concerned.”
The Detective Superintendent reported this issue to the RUC Complaints and Discipline Department at HQ for investigation but there is no evidence that any criminal or disciplinary investigation was instigated by RUC HQ.
When Jackson stood trial on 11th November 1976, the only charge he faced was possession of the silencer.
The trial judge, Judge Murray, rejected Jackson’s defence that his fingerprints were only on the tape and had been innocently transferred to the silencer. However the judge went on to say that this “did not prove that Jackson knew he was in possession of a Luger silencer, nor did it show that he had assented to such possession.”
Jackson was then acquitted of the charge.
The fingerprints of a notorious loyalist paramilitary Robin Jackson, were found on the silencer of a gun used in the Miami Showband murders.
There is no evidence that this information was passed to the Miami investigation team.
The suspect was aware that his fingerprints had been found before his arrest.
He claimed that a Detective Superintendent had tipped him off and advised him how to avoid arrest.
There were only 12 officers of this rank in the RUC at this time.
There is no evidence that these serious allegations were ever investigated by RUC HQ.
“To the objective, impartial observer disturbing questions about collusive and corrupt behaviour are raised, The HET review has found no means to assuage or rebut these conerns and that is a deply troubling matter.’
(INFORMATTON FOUND lN DE-CLASSIFTED BRITISH GOVERNMENT PAPERS AT THE BRITISH NATIONAL ARCHIVES, KEW, LONDON)
Despite strenuous and repeated denials after the Miami Showband murders, the British authorities at a senior level knew, from at least August 1973, that the UDR was heavily infiltrated by loyalist paramilitaries.
A 2O-page document “Subversion in the UDR” of that date records: a.That between 5% and 15% of UDR members’have paramilitary links with “widespread joint membershiP of the UDA” b. Some soldiers are “undoubtedly living “double lives” c. That the UDR is the single “best” source of loyalist weapons and the “only significant source of modern weapons. d. That the primary loyalty of many of its members was to ‘Ulster’ rather than the British government. e. There is a self confessed dearth of British and RUC intelligence on UDR-loyalist links. f. That in many areas UDR commanders consider dual membership normal.
In the immediate aftermath of the Miami killings, however, in a telegram to the British ambassador in Dublin, an NIO official angrily refuted any claim of UDR involvement in the attack, saying this was “entirely without foundation” and had been “rightly repudiated”.
The same official suggested surplus military uniforms were easily procured and this’should be pointed out to the lrish” to eplain why some of the Miami attackers wore UDR uniforms. (In fact, a serving member of the UDR, Thomas Raymond Crozier, was already in custody and was charged with the murder the day after the official rebuked Dublin)
Five days later, in a letter to an official at the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, an NIO civil servant said he had informed the lrish ambassador to London that a man charged with the murders [Crozier] was a serving member of the UDR. The NIO official said this was unfortunate but there was always the risk of a “bad hat” in any large organisation.
On 24h August, in a replica of the Miami Showband attack, and less than a month after the Miami attack, two young men returning home ftom the All-lreland Football Semi-Final in Croke Park were stopped at an apparent, but bogus, UDR checkpoint and murdered at Altanamaken, Co. Armagh.
Rather than focus on concerns about loyalist subversion of the UDR, the then Northern Secretary, Merlyn Rees, in a memo to the British Prime Minister, complained that the SDLP was concentrating “on the two incidents of unofficial Vehicle Checkpoints (VCPs) with possible UDR involvement in order to attack the reliability of the UDR and the RUC Reserve”.
A month after the Miami attack, on 10 September 1975, the then British prime minister, Harold Wilson, met the leader of the opposition, Margaret Thatcher. The Secretary of State for Northern lreland Merlyn Rees and Airey Neave also attended the meeting.
MIAMI/UDR COLLUSION PAGE 2
ln a report of that meeting, a Downing Street official writes “Mrs Thatcher was informed that they were very worried by the current sectarian murders and that unfortunately there were elements in the RUC who were very close to the UVF”.
The report goes on to report that “The Army’e iudgment wae that the UDR was heavily infiltrated by extremist Protestants’ and in a crisis situation they could not be relied upon to be loyal”.
The British side were also aware of a sympathy notice for UVF men Harris Boyle and Wesley Somerville placed in the UVF magazine, “Combat” on behalf of UDR members. A British official, however, informed the lrish side at a meeting that they had already investigated this and that there was no reason to believe it was genuinely from UDR members.
A margin note, however, contradicts this by revealing the Combat notice is being treated seriously: ‘We must look into this”.’
The SDLP at the time was repeatedly raising concerns about sectarian bias in the UDR and that Catholics had as much to fear from genuine checkpoints mounted by the regiment as bogus ones.
It is crystal clear from these communications that London was fully aware of wholesale loyalist infiltration of the UDR but was continuing to deny any concern to Dublin and the SDLP’
in the briefing given to Margaret Thatcher, six weeks after the Miami murders, British prime minister, Harold Wilson, says unambiguously that the UDR was a force out of control and there were also serious concerns about the RUC Reserve.
It is obvious that, both before and after the Miami and Altnamacken attacks, the irish government, at both ministerial and diplomatic levels, was also repeatedly raising its concerns, but the pleas fell on deaf ears.
As time passed, rather than stand the regiment down, or even carry out a review of subversion, the UDR’s role grew, even to the point of developing an intelligence role and deploying it into sensitive areas such as South Armagh’
NOTE: The above is a very limited number of excerpts from dozens of documents retrieved at the National Archives in London showing the detailed knowledge London had about UDR subversion and loyalist links in membership and arms procurement.
Some of these documents are electronically-scanned and publicly available on The Pat Finucane Centre website (www.patfinucanecentre.org).
BBC NewsBelfast Telegraph - 2 days agoDolores Kelly, SDLP MLA for Upper Bann, said the HET report on theMiami Showband killings underlined the need for a proper process to …
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4 days ago – Three members of the Miami Showband were killed by loyalists in 1975… The HET report found that UVF man Robin Jackson had been linked …
3 days ago – Miami Showband killings: Robin Jackson claimed he was tipped off that… The Het report found that Jackson, a member of loyalist paramilitary …
4 days ago – Today, relatives and families published part of the findings of the Historical Enquiries Team report. On 31 July 1975, the Miami Showband were …
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www.politicalworld.org › … › Irish Politics -The State of the Nation1 post - 1 author
A new HET (Historical Enquiries Team) Report has confirmed UDR collusion in theMiami Showband Massacre in 1975. The Report confirms that Thatcher was …
Home · HET Report · From the beginning · Discography · Gallery · Cover Stories · TheMiami Showband Massacre Book Launch · Luminaries · Charitable …
4 days ago – Following a report from the Historical Enquiries Team on the Miami Showband Massacre, Alliance Justice Spokesperson Stewart Dickson MLA …
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SDLP Upper Bann MLA Dolores Kelly and Victims’ spokesperson Colum Eastwood MLA have welcomed the publication of the HET report into the Miami …
The Miami Showband Line-up from 1963-1967
One of the first photos of The Miami Showband, c. 1963.
|This line-up lasted from 1963 to 1967.
From left: Tommy O’Rourke, Clem Quinn, Joe Tyrrell, Tony Bogan, Martin Phelan, Dickie Rock, Murty Quinn and Dennis Murray who replaced Tony Harris.
The “new” Miami in 1967, soon after some members left to form The Sands.
Front: Clem Quinn, Brian McCoy, Des Lee, Fran O’Toole, Dickie Rock, Paul Ashford
Back: Tony Bogan, Pat McCarthy
Des Lee takes centre-stage with Fran, Brian and Pat in the background
New Spotlight Night-Out at Dublin’s Television Club
Fran’s first year with the band.
The Arcadia, Bray with Jimmy Saville
Martin Branigan took over the drum-stool in 1971. Brothers Frankie and Johnny Simon from Roscommon had a brief stint with the band in 1972 following the departure of Dickie Rock.
Front: Fran O’Toole, Johnny Simon, Paul Ashford
Back: Brian McCoy, Des Lee, Frankie Simon, Clem Quinn, Martin Branigan