Special branch agent ‘colluded’ in Miami killings


AN RUC Special Branch agent has been accused of colluding in the 1975 Miami Showband Massacre, which claimed the lives of three band members and two Portadown members of the UVF.

Harris Boyle and associate Wesley Sommerville, who were also members of the UDR, were part of a fake road block which stopped the Dublin based band’s minibus south of Banbridge in July 1975.

The musicians were on their way home to Dublin after a gig in the town, and those manning the road block consisted of a ‘mix’ of UVF and UDR members.

The band was made to line up at the edge of the road while a UVF member tried to hide the bomb on the bus, the plan being that it would explode later while the band drove south. But it went off prematurely, killing Boyle and Somerville.

After the explosion the other members of the UVF gang opened fire on the band. Lead singer Fran O’Toole, guitarist Tony Geraghty and trumpeter Brian McCoy all died, and the bass player was seriously injured.

Three UDR members - James Somerville, Thomas Crozier and James McDowell - received life sentences for the murders and remained in jail until they were released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

Boyle received a large paramilitary funeral from his home at Festival Road in the Killicomaine estate, and a mural was later unveiled to his memory and that of Somerville, in nearby Princess Way.

The month after the killing, Portadown DJ Norman ‘Mooch’ Kerr was shot dead in Armagh by an IRA gunman, reportedly because he knew Harris Boyle.

The latest twist to the killings came this week when an HET (Historical Enquiries Team) report found that UVF man Robin Jackson had been linked to one of the murder weapons by fingerprints. Jackson also claimed in police interviews he had been tipped off by a senior RUC officer to lie low after the killings.

The HET report said that Jackson, a leading Mid-Ulster UVF man, claimed he was tipped off that his fingerprints were found on a silencer attached to a Luger pistol used in the murders. And it added the murders raised “disturbing questions about collusive and corrupt behaviour”.

It also stated that the review “has found no means to assuage or rebut these concerns and that is deeply troubling”.

Commenting on the report, band member Des McAlea, who survived the attack, said, “It’s been a long time but we’ve got justice at last. The HET findings are quite shocking and mind-blowing. To think that people who were supposed to be protecting us and they were actually involved in this terrible tragedy.”

Mr McAlea, who emigrated from Ireland after the murders, said he relived the “terrifying” events of the night every day of his life.

Stephen Travers, who was seriously injured, said, “The last thing that Brian McCoy did was nudge my elbow with his as we had our hands on our heads and gave his complete and total trust to the people who were questioning us, because he said they were British Army.

“Within less than a minute these people he gave his complete trust to murdered him.”