Henry McDonald reports (John has more detail here) on the conclusion of the privately released HET report (they are all intended for the families) subsequently released via the Pat Finucane Centre into the killing of the Miami Showband on 31st July 1975. He notes:
The Het team said the murders raised “disturbing questions about collusive and corrupt behaviour”. It said the review “has found no means to assuage or rebut these concerns and that is a deeply troubling matter”.
Update: Pat Finucane Centre have released a copy of that part of the report relating to Robin Jackson…
Though as Henry alludes, the membership of the gang who murdered the band members have long been beyond doubt, not least because two of them blew themselves up on the spot had dual membership of both state and non state forces:
The bogus army patrol comprised soldiers from the Ulster Defence Regiment and UVF members in Armagh. Members of the band were made to line up at the side of the road while one UVF member tried to hide a bomb on the bus. The plan was that the bomb would explode en route, killing everyone on board as it entered Dublin. But the bomb went off prematurely, killing Harris Boyle and Wesley Somerville, who were members of the UDR, as well as the UVF.
The focus of the press reporting though is:
The cold case police investigations unit, the Historical Enquiries Team (Het), found Robin Jackson was linked to the murders of three members of the Miami Showband in July 1975.
The pop group were on their way back to Dublin when their minibus was stopped by a fake army patrol near the border. The Het report found that Jackson, a member of loyalist paramilitary group the Ulster Volunteer Force from North Armagh, had been linked to one of the murder weapons by his fingerprints. But Jackson later claimed in police interviews he had been tipped off by a senior Royal Ulster Constabulary officer to lie low after the killings.
Without seeing the the hard core of the report (let me know if you spot it anywhere?) it is hard to draw too many hard and fast conclusions. Collusion is a possibility (Finucane Centre has some interesting background on official British concerns about the UDR around this time), but so too is the likelihood these actions were about preserving an ‘informer asset’ inside the loyalist paramilitaries.
Three other members of the gang, James Somerville, Thomas Crozier and James McDowell were also members of the UDR but these were all convicted at the time; which indicates the operation itself was unlikely to have been ordered at some level by the state.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty