Police failure to disclose Miami Showband documents ‘appalling’ says judge

One of the cars used by the UDR/Loyalist gunmen in the Miami Showband massacre killings

A failure by police to fully disclose documents in a major legal action over alleged collusion with loyalist terrorists behind the Miami Showband massacre is “appalling”, a High Court judge has said.

Expressing anger at the ongoing delay in providing all material to lawyers representing survivors and relatives of murdered group members, Mr Justice Maguire warned he may consider striking out the PSNI’s defence to the claim.

He said: “This is an appalling situation where this case has been going on since 2012, and we are at stage in 2020 where the obligation of discovery on the police service has not been complied with.

“The court seems to be getting the runaround. It makes me angry (and) shows so much disrespect to the court.”

The Miami Showband who three of their members were massacred at a bogus UDR checkpoint near Banbridge in Co Down in July 1975

Victims of the atrocity are suing the Ministry of Defence and PSNI over the suspected level of 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.

UDA-UDR-UVF Spot the difference?

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.

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 Robin 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.

Based on documents uncovered by campaign groups, writs have been issued against both the MoD and chief constable.

Damages are being sought for assault, trespass, conspiracy to injure, negligence and misfeasance in public office.

Military chiefs allegedly knew about but failed to stop loyalists infiltrating the UDR’s ranks, according to the victims’ case.

They also claim police are liable for vetting carried out on applications to join the army regiment and the use of agents such as Jackson.

Army files have now been disclosed to the plaintiffs as part of the discovery process.

Although some of the documents have been redacted based on issues of national security, the material reportedly contains a link to undercover British soldier Robert Nairac

Captain Nairac was abducted and killed by the IRA in 1977 and his body has never been found.

His alleged connection to the case was not mentioned at a hearing yesterday dealing with the level of discovery.

Instead, counsel for the victims and bereaved contended that the PSNI’s obligations remain incomplete.

Granting a two-week adjournment, Mr Justice Maguire said: “I think the time is coming in this case where the court’s patience is (running out).”

With many thanks to: The Irish News for the original story 

Pat Finucane’s widow ‘frustrated’ after Julian Smith meeting postponed

The solicitor was shot dead by loyalist paramilitaries in front of his family in the north of the city in 1989 in collusion with British state security forces.

The Belfast widow of murdered solicitor Pat Finucane has been left disappointed after her latest meeting with the British government was postponed (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The Belfast widow of murdered solicitor Pat Finucane said she has been left “frustrated and disappointed” after her latest meeting with the British Government was postponed.

He was shot by loyalist paramilitaries in front of his family in the north of the city in 1989 in collusion with state security forces.

His wife Geraldine planned to meet Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith on Friday but it was postponed due to his diary commitments, an official letter said.

My family and I remain committed to achieving our goal of an independent public inquiry into all of the circumstances surrounding Pat’s murder.

Geraldine Finucane
Mrs Finucane said: “I am frustrated and disappointed that the British Government has, once again, postponed a meeting with me and my family to discuss the implementation of the UK Supreme Court decision from February 2019.

“The latest delay leads me to the conclusion that this administration will be no different than previous ones, when it comes to honouring its responsibilities concerning British State involvement in the murder of my husband.”

In February, the Supreme Court ruled that investigations into the fatal shooting of the Belfast solicitor have not been effective and fell short of international human rights standards.

Mrs Finucane has challenged former prime minister David Cameron’s decision not to hold a public inquiry.

A separate review commissioned by Mr Cameron declared his killers colluded with the state in a “shocking” fashion.

Mrs Finucane said: “My family and I remain committed to achieving our goal of an independent public inquiry into all of the circumstances surrounding Pat’s murder.

“We will not let this latest disappointment deter us unduly.”

With many thanks to the: Belfast Telegraph and Michael McHugh, PA for original story

Follow these links to find out more: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/mi5-destroyed-material-on-ni-security-force-collusion-1.4043104?mode=amp

(2)-: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-20662412

(3)-: https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/secrecy-and-northern-ireland-s-dirty-war-the-murder-of-pat-finucane-1.2796750

Fresh Nairac link to Miami Showband Massacre in army papers

MoD documents publicly name British soldier for first time

EXECUTED: Captain Robert Nairac was abducted and murdered by the PIRA in 1977

Previously unseen British army intelligence documents have linked undercover British SAS soldier Robert Nairac to the Miami Showband Massacre.

Three members of the band, including lead singer Fran O’Toole, were murdered when loyalist killers stopped their minibus at a bogus UDR checkpoint near Banbridge in Co Down in July 1975. The attack was carried out by members of the Glenanne Gang, which included RUC, UDR and UVF personal. Two loyalists also died when the bomb they were planting exploded prematurely. British army documents have now linked SAS-trained officer Nairac to the atrocity.

UDA-UDR-UVF Spot the difference?

While he has previously been connected to loyalist murders this is believed to be the first time MoD documents naming him have been made public. Captain Robert Nairac was abducted and murdered by the PIRA in 1977 and his body has never been found. He is one of three people belonging to the group known as The Disappeared whose remains have yet to be located. The Ministry of Defence papers were recently disclosed to solicitor Michael Flanagan who represents Mr O’Toole’s widow Valerie Anderson. She is taking legal action against the MoD and the RUC/PSNI chief constable.

The front page of the Daily Mirror in 1977 at the time of Captain Robert Nairac’s execution

It is understood the redacted documents contain suggestions that Captain Nairac obtained equipment and uniforms for the killers. The file also claims that the British SAS soldier was responsible for the planning and execution of the attack. Survivors, including justice campaigner Stephen Travers, have previously insisted a member of the killer gang spoke with an English accent. In his 2015 book about the life of Captain Nairac, Alistair Kerr claimed the British soldier went on leave to Scotland the same day as the Miami Showband massacre.

Captain Robert Nairac firing a British Army issue SLR (Self Loading Rifle)

Mr Travers last night said that when he learned of the document it was a “huge disappointment to me that I was right”. “It was the British army involved in the planning and execution,” he said. It is believed many of the documents provided to Mr Flanagan have been redacted and that public interest immunity certificates have also been issued. A hearing linked to the case is due to be heard in Belfast this morning. Mr Flanagan last night said collusion was a feature.

Captain Robert Nairac received the George Cross for bravery but it wasn’t very brave to murder three innocent men in cold blood

“This is a case where collusion is self-evident and in those circumstances it is of concern that the defendants are seeking to rely so heavily on public immunity,” he said. “We feel the state should be as open as possible in a case of this nature and will be asking the court to look at this issue.”

MoD denies Robert Nairac played part in Miami Showband massacre murders

With many thanks to: The Irish News and Connla Young for the original story 

Follow these links to find out more: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miami_Showband_killings

(2)-: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glenanne_gang

(3)-: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Nairac

(4)-: https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Collusion_is_not_an_illusion.jpg

(5)-: https://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/crime/mod-rejects-intelligence-file-claim-of-robert-nairac-role-in-uvf-miami-showband-murders-1-9219278?fbclid=IwAR28q0czJWGfkczctnAdNK5YXQPTamSNmOM4jyMNA3F4pWy7YE0aIpGw3ks

Loyalist mass murderer Michael Stone’s release bid refused

https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/loyalist-killer-michael-stones-release-bid-refused-38518223.html

Murder victim Malcolm McKeown was a member of a notorious loyalist family involved in sectarian murderers

Clifford McKeown, who was convicted of murdering innocent Catholic taxi driver Michael McGoldrick

MURDER victim Malcolm McKeown was a member of a notorious loyalist family.

Both his brothers served life sentences for separate sectarian killings and were linked to numerous other unsolved murders in the Mid Ulster area as members of Billy Wright’s sectarian Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF).

Clifford McKeown, a former loyalist supergrass, is currently serving a life sentence for the murder of Catholic taxi driver Michael McGoldrick, who was shot dead in July 1996, apparently as a ‘birthday present’ for Wright.

The 37-year-old victim had graduated from Queen’s University just days before. His wife Sadie was pregnant with their second child at the time.

Read more:

Northern Ireland lagging behind in legislation to deal with gangland crime
Fears of more bloodshed after fatal shooting of Malcolm McKeown

INNOCENT: Murder victim Michael McGoldrick who was shot dead by Clifford McKeown.

Clifford McKeown was convicted of the murder in 2003 on the evidence of journalist Nick Martin-Clark.

He had confessed to the killing to during a series of interviews in Maghaberry prison where he was serving a sentence for a number of armed robberies.

Mr Martin-Clark, had promised McKeown confidentiality but decided to break his undertaking after hearing the grisly details of the shooting. He later was forced to leave is home and go into the witness protection programme.

Clifford McKeown remains in jail serving 24 years of a life sentence. Since no group claimed him as a member of its organisation he is ineligible for early release under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

His brother Trevor McKeown was also convicted of shooting dead Catholic teenager Bernadette Martin as she slept in her Protestant boyfriend’s family home in the village of Aghalee, Co Antrim at the height of the Drumcree march dispute.

He shot the 18-year-old in the head as she lay sleeping in a bedroom.

The trial heard that the young couple had stayed overnight at McKeown’s Aghalee home two weeks before the murder.

The murder weapon was the same gun used by his brother in the killing of Michael McGoldrick.

Teenage murder victim Bernadette Martin, who was an innocent Catholic murdered by Trevor McKeown

McKeown was sentenced to life in prison for the July 1997 murder but was released in 2012 by the Sentence Review Commission on the grounds it was “satisfied that, if released immediately, you would not be a danger to the public”.

Trevor McKeown also claimed RUC detectives had urged him to kill Lurgan human rights lawyer Rosemary Nelson two years before she was assassinated by loyalists in a 1999 under-car bombing.

He has since disassociated himself from criminality.

Read more:

Northern Ireland lagging behind in legislation to deal with gangland crime
Fears of more bloodshed after fatal shooting of Malcolm McKeown

With many thanks to: The Irish News and Allison Morris for the original story

Follow these links to find out more: https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/opinion/news-analysis/ciaran-barnes-malcolm-mckeown-a-notorious-gangster-who-lived-by-the-sword-and-died-by-it-38421476.html

(2)-: https://www.theguardian.com/uk/1999/jun/10/johnmullin

(3)-: https://alchetron.com/Billy-Wright-%28loyalist%29

RTÉ screening of Glenanne Gang film a ‘major milestone on the road to justice’

Documentary film maker Sean Murray directed documentary ‘Unquiet Graves: the Story of the Glenanne Gang’, about a group of Ulster loyalists who carried out shooting and bombing attacks against Catholics and Irish nationalists in the 1970s in collusion with British security forces. Picture by Liam McBurney/PA Wire

THE Republic’s national broadcaster RTÉ is to screen a documentary investigating allegations of British government involvement in the murder of more than 120 civilians in counties Armagh and Tyrone at the height of the Troubles.

Director Sean Murray said the showing of `Unquiet Graves: The Story of the Glenanne Gang’ is “major milestone on the road to justice”.

The Belfast premiere was in February at Movie House cinema on the city’s Dublin Road.

The feature-length documentary is narrated by the Oscar-nominated actor Stephen Rea.

Among the allegations is a claim by a former RUC officer that British intelligence tried to persuade the UVF to attack a Catholic primary school in Co Armagh in retaliation for the Kingsmill massacre.

https://youtu.be/-WxDTmscvD0

Murray took to his Twitter account to tell followers: “I can now announce that Unquiet Graves will be screening on RTÉ 1 on Monday the 29th of July at 9.35pm.

“This is of immense importance to the ‘Glenanne families’ and is a major milestone on the road to justice. The Time for Truth is now.”

With many thanks to: The Irish News for the original story

Police Ombudsman Michael Maguire regrets not being able to publish three key reports

Five people were shot dead at Sean Graham’s Bookmakers on the Ormeau Road in Belfast in February 1992

DR Michael Maguire has said his biggest regret while serving as Police Ombudsman was having to suspend the publication of three key reports.

The decision was taken earlier this year after it emerged that the PSNI had failed to disclose “significant” information on police computers to his office.

The stalled reports include Operation Achille, relating to the murders of five innocent Catholic men by the UDA at Sean Graham’s Bookmakers on Belfast’s Ormeau Road in February 1992.

The results of a second investigation, Operation Greenwich, which relates to 20 murders and attempted murders across several counties between 1988 and 1994, has also been put on hold.

This report includes details about the infamous 1993 ‘trick or treat’ murders of eight people in the Rising Sun Bar at Greysteel, Co Derry.

Mr Maguire has also said the results of a probe over the murder of 17-year-old Damien Walsh in west Belfast in March 1993 has been delayed.

The ombudsman, who leaves office this week, said not being in a position to publish is a source of regret.

“The fact that I have not been able to publish those reports is probably my greatest regret in the office because I had said to families last year that I was going to do my best to publish them and it was likely that was going to be the case,” he said.

“So I had to go back to them and say ‘look this isn’t going to happen’ – well the impact on them is well publicised.”

At the time Dr Maguire said the new information relates to “sensitive material, intelligence-led material and includes information (on) covert policing”.

It is understood it also relates to a haul of loyalist weapons smuggled into the north in the late 1980s.

“They were major pieces of work, you are talking substantive reports that were nearly ready to go,” he said.

“Had that access issue not have happened I would have published them.”

The ombudsman said he intends to brief his replacement, Marie Anderson, “on what work needs to be done to them”.

“The information which hadn’t been given to us opened up new lines of inquiry and that’s what’s being undertaken at the minute,” he said.

With many thanks to the: Irish News and Connla Young for the original story