Miami Showband massacre victims receive £1.5m in damages…

From the BBC report:

Survivors and relatives of those killed in the Miami Showband murders are to receive close to £1.5m in damages.

The resolution of legal action against the Ministry of Defence and the Police Service of Northern Ireland was announced at Belfast High Court on Monday.

The victims had argued there was collaboration between the loyalist killers and serving soldiers.

Three band members were killed near Newry in 1975.

The bomb and gun attack happened in July as the band, which toured across Ireland, travelled home to Dublin after a gig in Banbridge.

Their minibus was stopped by a fake Army patrol involving Ulster Defence Regiment and Ulster Volunteer Force members.

A bomb which was placed on the bus exploded prematurely, killing two of the attackers, Harris Boyle and Wesley Somerville.

The gang then opened fire, murdering singer Fran O’Toole, guitarist Tony Geraghty and trumpeter Brian McCoy.

Two other band members, Des McAlea and Stephen Travers, were injured but survived the atrocity.

On Monday, Mr Travers was awarded £425,000 and Mr McAlea will receive £325,000 in damages.

The court ruled the personal representatives of Fran O’Toole and Brian McCoy would receive £375,000 and £325,000 respectively.

The legal action followed a 2011 Historical Enquiries Team report which raised concerns about collusion around the involvement of an RUC Special Branch agent.

It found that mid-Ulster UVF man Robin Jackson claimed in police interviews he had been tipped off by a senior RUC officer to lie low after his fingerprints were found on a silencer attached to one of the weapons.

He was later acquitted on a charge of possessing the silencer.

Two Ulster Defence Regiment soldiers were convicted for their roles in the attack.

Counsel for the Ministry of Defence and the PSNI told the court the claims had raised complex, novel and unusual issues of both fact and law.

“The major issues which arose in this case concern questions of vicarious liability and limitation,” said Paul McLaughlin QC.

“The settlements which have been reached represent compromises.

“They are compromises in the interests of all parties in the case, and therefore avoided the necessity of reaching a final adjudication, one way or the other, on these difficult issues.”

As readers will probably remember Robin Jackson was a key member of the Glenane Gang who were linked to over 120 murders, almost all of whom were Catholic civilians with no links to Irish republican paramilitaries.

Also in the mix is the infamous Captain Robert Nairac. From the Wikipedia entry:

It was stated by The Hidden Hand programme that Jackson had links to British Military Intelligence and Liaison officer Captain Robert Nairac. The Hidden Hand alleged that Jackson and his UVF comrades were controlled by Nairac who was attached to 14th Intelligence Company (The Det).

In his 1989 book War Without Honour, Holyroyd claimed that Nairac had organised the Miami Showband ambush in collaboration with Jackson, and had also been present at Buskhill when the attack was carried out.[85] Bassist Stephen Travers and saxophonist Des McAlea, the two bandmembers who survived the shootings, both testified in court that a British Army officer “with a crisp, clipped English accent” had overseen the operation. However, when shown a photograph of Nairac, Travers could not positively identify him as the soldier who had been at the scene. Martin Dillon in The Dirty War adamantly stated that Nairac had not been involved in the Green killing nor in the Miami Showband massacre.

Whatever the truth like most killings of the Troubles the Miami Showband massacre was utterly senseless. Another reminder that the past still haunts us all.