“ReMastered – The Miami Showband Massacre” now showing on Netflix is a disturbing account of one of the many atrocities of the Troubles.
The powerful documentary is a tribute to the work of one man, Stephen Travers, who has fought to keep the case alive and uncover the truth behind the lies.
In the mid 70’s Stephen was the 24-year-old bass player with the massively popular Miami Showband, one of Ireland’s biggest bands at the time.
For Irish people of a certain age July 31, 1975 was the day the music died.
Heading back to Dublin after a gig in Banbridge, Stephen and his band mates were stopped by a fake checkpoint seven miles north of Newry at 2.30 am on that fateful morning.
Men in Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) uniforms ordered the band to get out of their van and line up. Stephen noticed a man with a British accent who appeared to be in charge.
He also noticed two men at the back of the band’s open van and, fearing they might damage his guitar, broke from the line-up to warn them but was shoved back into position.
Suddenly, there was an explosion from the back of the van, and everyone in its vicinity was blown in all directions while two of the “checkpoint” patrol members were blown to bits.
According to Travers, the surviving members of the patrol were then determined to kill all the band members to destroy evidence.
Singer Fran O’Toole, who was lying on the ground, was shot 22 times in the face.
Guitarist Tony Geraghty was shot four times in the back while trumpet player Brian McCoy was shot nine times.
Remarkably, Travers and Des McAlea survived. Travers pretended he was dead, while McAlea managed to run across the fields.
Travers later recalled someone saying: “Come on, those bastards are dead. I got them with dum-dums.”
Travers and McAlea were able to identify two of their attackers in court, both were UVF members also serving in the UDR, and subsequently given life sentences.
But their reports of the British soldier who was there was never investigated. The shocking murders of the three innocent musicians horrified the public.
The Netflix documentary follows Travers on his search for the truth as he tries to uncover evidence of British Government collusion in the murders.
Fred Holroyd and Colin Wallace, two former British intelligence officers who also appear in the documentary, speak of their suspicions of collusion.
Travers is now pursuing a court case against the Ministry of Defence.
In 2017, Belfast’s High Court ordered police and the Ministry of Defence to release more documents relating to the Miami Showband murders.
Travers says the documentary will give a powerful boost to his quest for the truth.
“I want to show that we can learn from history,” he tells viewers. And I want to remind people that we are not going away anywhere in our search for justice.”