Justice at last for the forgotten victims of sectarian murder in Dundalk
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The Irish News of the World, 9 July 2006:
Showband massacre: shocking new report
Former cop behind plot
By Martin Breen
A former cop has sensationally been named as plotting the Miami Showband massacre in 1976 with the help of a British soldier.
Farmer James Mitchell, 85, has been accused, in a report by former Supreme Court judge Henry Barron, of storing the bomb used to murder the band and handing it to an undercover British soldier to plant.
The startling revelation and the alleged involvement of the soldier, who disappeared at the hands of the IRA in 1977, was found in a letter uncovered by Justice Barron.
His report also claims Mitchell's farm at Glenanne, near Markethill, South Armagh, was the centre of loyalist terrorist bombings directed against the Republic in the 1970s.
Mitchell wsas named in a letter by whistleblower John Weir, another ex-RUC officer, who himself was jailed for a sectarian murder. Weir decided to lift the lid on collusion between some members of the security forces and the UVF terror group.
In a section of his report issued last week Justice Baron writes: "While in prison, Weir wrote an undated letter to a friend, in which he stated, 'explosives were collected, probably by a British officer, from a farmhouse belonging to James Mitchell (RUC Reserve, Glenanne). This house frequented by Army Inteligence."
In the conclusion Justice Barron, who indicated in 2003 that Mitchell's farm was used to build the Dublin and Monaghan bombs which claimed 33 lives in May 1974, aid: "There was a group of paramilitaries and renegade RUC/UDR officers, based around Mitchell's farm, who carried out sectarian gun and bomb attacks."
Mitchell's housekeeper Lily Shields is also named as a member of the terror cell based at Mitchell's farm.
Two years ago we exclusively found her alive and well there even though the RUC had told the Barron inquiry that she was DEAD.
On July 31, 1975, a ten-strong UVF hit squad flagged down the showband's bus at a fake Army roadblock at Newry, Co Down. The Dublin-based band, one of Ireland's most successful, were returning from a dance at Banbridge after ignoring UVF warnings not to play in the North.
The terrorists, dressed as soldiers, tried to plant a bomb under the back of the bus. But it exploded prematurely, killing terrorists Harris Boyle and Wesley Somerville.
In the ensuing chaos, the gunmen opened fire on the band, killing lead singer Fran O'Toole, 29, saxophonist tony Geraghty, 23, and trumpeter Brian McCoy, 33.
Fellow band members Stephen Travers and Des McLea were badly injured. Drummer Ray Miller was unhyrt, having gone home separately by car. Three of the UVF killers were caught and jailed including serving UDR soldiers James McDowell and Thomas Crozier.
Justice Barron concludes: " The intelligence relating to the farm of James Mitchell at Glenanne was not included in the intelligence provided to An Garda Siochana in January 1976 by the RUC, a suspicion remains that contemporary actions were designed to limit information relating to security forces collusion in terrorist activities from reaching the public domain.
"The security forces in Northern Ireland knew that Mitchell's farm was a centre for illegal activities on as early as January 1976, and probably for some time before that. Yet these activities were allowed to continue. unhindered."
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Download the Barron Report on the Dundalk bombing from the Oireachtas website.
See the Irish News: "Relatives 'furious' over Barron report blunder
See also The Irish News online breaking news, 5 July 2006: Pub bombers 'treated better than victims' families'
See also: Oireachtas press release of 5 July 2006.
Daily Ireland, 6 July 2006: Blast victim’s relative hits out
The Irish Examiner, 6 July 2006: Loyalists had licence to kill Catholics, finds inquiry
The Irish Independent, 6 July 2006: Bombers 'treated better than victims'
The Irish News, 6 July 2006: Relatives want 1975 bombing inquiry
The Irish News, 6 July 2006: Horror lives on for bar owner
The Irish News, 6 July 2006: Report points to RUC reservist's farm as base for UVF operations
The Irish News, 6 July 2006: Hope that collusion theories may be brought to surface
LMFM Radio online news report, 6 July 2006: Hearings into report on Dundalk bombing to begin in September
TOM News, 6 July 2006: Latest Barron Report Highlights Need for Ahern-Blair Summit on Collusion
Daily Ireland, 7 July 2006: Taoiseach urged to call summit
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Last edited: 17 July 2006 19:02:14
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