Intelligence files in Miami showband massacre case must be disclosed
High Court has directed more than 80 categories of documents are to be made available
The Miami Showband: its members were subjected to a deadly attack in 1975 in which Robin “the Jackal” Jackson is believed to have been involved.
Police and military chiefs have been ordered to disclose intelligence files as part of a legal action being taken by relatives of those who were killed or injured in the Miami Showband massacre.
It is alleged there was collusion between the authorities and loyalist terrorists in the lead up to the massacre with damages being sought for assault, trespass, conspiracy to injure, negligence and misfeasance in public office.
A lawyer representing survivors and relatives of murdered group members confirmed the High Court has directed that more than 80 categories of documents are to be made available.
They are understood to include material held on Robin ‘The Jackal’ Jackson, a notorious UVF commander and suspected RUC Special Branch agent linked to scores of murders.
Following the development solicitor Michael Flanigan said: “This is a case in which collusion is self-evident.
“The documents which the court has ordered disclosure of will go some way to explaining how that collusion came into effect, resulting in the loss of the lives of these innocent, talented young men.”
Victims of the atrocity are suing the Ministry of Defence and PSNI over the collaboration between serving soldiers and the paramilitary killers.
Three members of the popular band were taken from their tour bus and shot dead on a country road after a gig in Banbridge, County Down in July 1975.
They were travelling home to Dublin when a fake army patrol made up of UDR soldiers and UVF members stopped them at a bogus checkpoint outside Newry.
Band members were made to line up at the side of the road while attempts were made to hide a bomb on the bus.
The device exploded prematurely, killing some of the would-be bombers.
The other gunmen then opened fire on the band, murdering lead singer Fran O’Toole, guitarist Tony Geraghty and trumpeter Brian McCoy.
Two other band members, Des McAlea and Stephen Travers, were also injured but survived the atrocity.
In 2011 a report by the Historical Enquiries Team raised collusion concerns around the involvement of an RUC Special Branch agent.
It found that UVF boss Jackson, a one-time UDR member who died in 1998, had been linked to one of the murder weapons by fingerprints.
Jackson claimed in police interviews he had been tipped off by a senior RUC officer to lie low after the killings.
He went on trial charged with possession of a silencer attached to a pistol used in the murders but was subsequently acquitted.
Two serving members of the UDR were, however, eventually convicted for their part in the attack.