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.