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.
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”