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Miami Showband survivors to continue quest for justice

By Maureen Coleman

Published 03/08/2015

Des Lee, Ray Millar and Stephen Travers walk along the stretch of road where 40 years ago they lost three members of their band
Des Lee, Ray Millar and Stephen Travers walk along the stretch of road where 40 years ago they lost three members of their band
Des Lee, Ray Millar and Stephen Travers walk along the stretch of road where 40 years ago they lost three members of their band

The survivors of the Miami Showband Massacre have vowed to keep the names of their murdered band-mates alive and to continue their quest for justice four decades on.

In a poignant prayer service yesterday to mark the 40th anniversary of the UVF atrocity, Des Lee, Stephen Travers and Ray Millar returned to the scene at Buskhill near Newry to lay flowers and pay tribute to the three young men who lost their lives on the night of July 31, 1975.

Front-man Fran O'Toole (29), trumpeter Brian McCoy (32) and guitarist Tony Geraghty (23) were all gunned down after the minibus in which they were travelling back to Dublin was stopped at a bogus checkpoint. The patrol was made up of UDR soldiers and UVF terrorists.

The band members were told to line up at the side of the road while two of the gang tried to plant a bomb on the bus. The device exploded prematurely, killing the terrorists. The rest of the gang opened fire on the band. Lee and Travers survived.

Yesterday, at the roadside where the three musicians were killed, Lee and Travers were joined by the band's then drummer Millar, who had travelled home separately that night. The three men stood with their arms around each other, while a PA system played the music of the Miami Showband.

Those at the service included SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell; Stuart Bailie of the Oh Yeah music centre; Good Vibrations record label boss Terri Hooley; Michael Gallagher, whose son died in the Omagh bomb, and Miami Showband's former tour manager Brian Maguire.

In an emotional address to hundreds of guests and members of the public, Stephen Travers said a monument in Dublin city centre had helped bring the names of Fran, Tony and Brian back into the public domain and that a similar monument should be erected in Northern Ireland.

He said: "If we don't tell each new generation about such awful events, who will inform the young people who are again spoiling for a fight?"

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