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The Miami Showband killings (also known as the Miami Showband Massacre) | by infomatique
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The Miami Showband killings (also known as the Miami Showband Massacre)

The Miami Showband killings (also known as the Miami Showband Massacre) occurred in 1975 near Newry, in South Armagh, Northern Ireland when The Miami Showband musical group were travelling home to Dublin after a gig in Banbridge, County Down. The vehicle they were travelling in stopped at a roadblock after being flagged down by men in British Army uniforms. During the Troubles it was a common occurrence to be stopped by the British Army on the roads. The unsuspecting members of the band were taken out of the minibus, and told to line up in a ditch by the side of the road. Some of the men at the checkpoint were British soldiers, from the Ulster Defence Regiment. However, they were also members of an illegal paramilitary organisation, the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF).

Out of sight of the band members, one UVF member attempted to plant and hide a bomb in the minibus, with a plan that the bomb would blow up en route to the band's destination in the Republic of Ireland, killing all on board. Had all gone according to plan, the Unionist forces would have been able to advance the proposition that the band were acting as bomb-smuggling couriers for the Irish Republican Army. Whilst the bomb was being planted it exploded prematurely, killing Harris Boyle and Wesley Somerville. Boyle and Somerville were members of the UDR as well as holding the rank of major and lieutenant, respectively, in the UVF.

After the explosion, the remaining UVF members opened fire on the dazed band members. Three of the musicians were killed: lead singer Fran O’Toole, guitarist Tony Geraghty, and trumpeter Brian McCoy. Bassist Stephen Travers was gravely wounded by a dum-dum bullet and barely survived his injuries. Saxophone player Des McAlea (aka "Des Lee") was not seriously injured and was able to alert authorities after the assassins had fled. (Ray Millar, the band's drummer, was not travelling in the minibus at the time of the attack, as he had elected to go straight to his hometown in Antrim to spend the night with his parents.)

Three members of UDR were eventually convicted for their part in the attack. James Somerville, Thomas Crozier and James McDowell all received life sentences, and remained in jail until their release under the terms of the Belfast Agreement.

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Taken on August 30, 2008