Omagh Support & Self Help Group
On 25th April 2009 Stephen Travers and Des McAlea of The Miami Showband attended the opening of the new headquarters of The Omagh Support and Self-Help Group.
The text of Stephen Travers’ speech.
“It’s a great privilege to publicly acknowledge the wonderful humanitarian work of “The Omagh Support and Self-Help Group”. That so many of you give so much of yourselves to others is proof indeed that out of such a terrible event can come so much good. I believe God sends the heaviest burdens only to those who can bear them and He surely recognises the extraordinary strength of the people of Omagh. The survivors of The Miami Showband incident have had thirty-four years to try to understand and come to terms with the slaughter of the innocent. It’s an ongoing and unremitting effort but we will continue to demand accountability, rather than retribution, from those who ordered and facilitated the events of July 31st 1975. People must deal with the memory of terrible events in their own individual way. Some go it alone but for many, support, especially from those who understand and share their pain, is invaluable. The tragedy that befell this lovely town on August 15th 1998 is surely an enormous weight to bear. Such a weight can manifest itself in many ways; loneliness, questions such as “why”, what if” or “if only” can haunt us. Perhaps even survivor’s guilt can keep us awake at night. Lives can be frozen in time by an overwhelming and understandable desire for justice or sometimes, even revenge. How sweet it would be to throw off these great burdens; any one of them heavy enough to crush the best of us. I thank God that the desire for revenge has never been an issue for us for it would only be a useless un-rewarding achievement, a disappointing anti-climax and a hollow victory if realised. I believe that the memory of the Omagh tragedy can best be served by your own extraordinary example that such an outrage served only to strengthen rather than divide your community; exposing the futility and abject failure of violence. I believe you have been, and will continue to be, a shining light for all of us, especially as that light is focused on the kindness, love and support you have given to each other through the years. I believe that will be the most important memorial to your loved ones and perhaps Omagh’s great legacy.”
The Miami Showband.