Victims and family members of the Miami Showband massacre will receive £1.5 million in damages

Victims and family members of the Miami Showband massacre will receive £1.5 million in damages

Plaintiffs in the Miami Showband Massacre will earn approximately £1.5 million in damages to satisfy charges of complicity with the loyalist terrorist murders.

Their legal resolutions against the Ministry of Defence and the Northern Ireland Police Service were announced today at the High Court in Belfast.

The wounded band members and those bereaved in the atrocity made powerful victim impact statements.

The judge, clearly struck by what he heard, stated their stories will stay with him forever.

The Miami Showband, a prominent cabaret group in Ireland, was attacked on their way home from a show in July 1975.

A phoney army patrol made up of UDR and UVF militants halted them outside Newry, Co Down.

Band members were forced to line up by the roadside while a bomb was hidden aboard the tour bus.
Premature explosion killed some would-be bombers.

On the band's behalf, their assassins killed singer Fran O'Toole, guitarist Tony Geraghty, and trumpeter Brian McCoy.

Des McAlea and Stephen Travers, both band members, were injured but survived.

In 2011, the Historical Enquiries Team expressed questions about an RUC Special Branch agent's involvement.

Fingerprints linked infamous UVF chief Robin 'The Jackal' Jackson, a former UDR member, to one of the murder weapons.

Jackson, a suspected RUC Special Branch agent involved to numerous deaths, said in police questioning that a senior officer had advised him to be quiet.

He was accused with murder with a silencer affixed to a firearm but acquitted.

However, two UDR members were convicted for their roles in the attack.

Four band members filed writs against the MoD and the Chief Constable, claiming damages for assault, trespass, conspiracy to hurt, carelessness, and misfeasance in public office.

Today in court, the lawsuits were settled without admitting fault.

Mr Travers will get £425,000 in damages, while Mr McAlea will get £325,000.

Mr O'Toole and Mr McCoy's personal representatives will get £375,000 each.

All four claimants received legal fees from their lawyer Michael Flanigan.

In an uncommon approach, Mr Justice McAlinden allowed the victims to express their pain.

A scorching summer of '75 was Mr Travers' "wonderful adventure" travelling to performances with band mates who became close friends.

"It was a fantastic band," he remarked.

"Sadly, my lingering recollections of these three talented young men, who I had just been on stage with playing Clap Your Hands, Stomp Your Feet, are permanently merged with the most awful, ever-present sights imaginable," Mr Travers added.

At 24, he was plagued by "awful, early grief".

After 46 years, Mr McAlea said, they had justice.

His emotional and physical health suffered "enormous" consequences.

"I wake up every day to these murders," he stated.

"I have photos of Fran, Brian, and Tony." That night will haunt me till I die."

In his words, "Every time I travel to the south of Ireland, I stop there." It hurts so bad I lay flowers and pray.

"I want to see a memorial to Fran, Brian, and Tony before I die." "Never forget them."

Rachel O'Toole, Fran's daughter, flew in from Vancouver for the hearing.

The killings left her family "devastated," she said in a statement delivered by her lawyer, Brian Fee QC.

"An intricate trap was set for the Miami Showband, killing three pals," Ms O'Toole added.

She informed the court her father was anti-political and anti-violence.

Defence and PSNI counsel explained that compromises were made to secure settlements in a unique mix of legacy cases.

The claims posed complicated, innovative, and exceptional issues of truth and law, said Paul McLaughlin QC.

"The main concerns in this case are vicarious liability and limits," he stated.

"The agreements struck are compromises.

This averted the need for a definitive decision on these complex problems, which would have been in the best interests of all parties.

"The fact that he was assassinated by UVF terrorists who had no prior knowledge of him adds to my family's grief," she said.

"The intention to hide a bomb on the band's van and detonate it once they reached the border is horrible."

Helen McCoy, Brian McCoy's widow, recounted her grief.

"Des and Stephen have told me that the rest of the band saw Brian as a father-figure," she stated.

"He was a great husband and father." His murder flipped our lives upside down.

No longer bitter, I want those who helped him die to know how much they harmed our lives. Collaboration with UVF terrorists was wrong."

In a tribute to the victims, Mr Justice McAlinden expressed hope that their long-suffering sorrow might be eased.

"I have heard my challenging cases, but the statements made tonight will stay with me throughout my career and indeed my life," he said.