Ahern unveils Miami Showband memorial

 

Victims of the Miami Showband massacre, gunned down in one of the most shocking atrocities in the Troubles, will today be remembered with a permanent memorial in Dublin.

The monument, to be unveiled by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, will pay tribute to the three men murdered by loyalist gunmen in Newry, Co Down, in July 1975.

Tony Geraghty, Fran O'Toole and Brian McCoy were killed in a hail of bullets by the Ulster Volunteer Force after a planned bomb attack backfired.

Survivors Stephen Travers and Des McAlea will remember their band mates at the service outside the former National Ballroom on Parnell Square North.

Family members from as far away as Canada are also travelling to the capital for the event.

The memorial is constructed of limestone bronze and granite and sculpted by Donegal artist Redmond Herrity.

It will be unveiled during an inter-denominational prayer service celebrated by Catholic priest Fr Brian D'Arcy and Anglican rector, the Rev Robert Dean.

Eurovision Song Contest winner and former MEP Dana Rosemary Scallon will also sing.

Families and friends of the dead helped raise more than €20,000 towards the cost of the monument by holding a charity concert night.

The Miami Showband was one of the country's most popular live bands in the 1970s.

The five men were returning from performing at a dance in Banbridge, Co Down, when their minibus was flagged down by men dressed in army uniforms.

The band was told to line up while UVF members, posing as Ulster Defence Regiment members, tried to plant a bomb inside the minibus to explode later on as the musicians headed home to Dublin.

But as the gang loaded the bomb, it exploded prematurely, killing two UVF members Harris Boyle and Wesley Sommerville.

The gang then opened fire on the band, killing three of the five.

PA