‘This is wrong’
Furious Miami Showband massacre survivor blasts Drew Harris’ appointment as Garda Commissioner over MI5 links
Stephen Travers, whose three pals were killed in the horror attack by the UVF in 1975, has hit out at the decision to make Harris the new Garda Commissioner Exclusive
- Kieran Dineen
- 18 Jul 2018, 7:20
DREW Harris’s reign as Garda Commissioner should be met with “outrage”, say victims of the Troubles.
They accuse the top cop of being part of an organisation that refused to release files they allege show collusion with killers — including notorious mass murderer The Jackal.
Today we hear from those furious at the decision to hire the PSNI No2, including Joe Campbell, son of a murdered RUC sergeant, and Eugene Reavey, whose three brothers were riddled with bullets.
Colm Smyth, survivor of the Loughinisland massacre, in which six men died in a pub watching Ireland play Italy in the 1994 World Cup, also strongly condemned the appointment.
And The Miami Showband’s Stephen Travers, whose three fellow band members were killed in 1975, told us: “This is wrong.”
Travers, now chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Platform, is eyeing up a run for the Seanad to give victims a voice and hold the PSNI to account, the Irish Sun can reveal.
And he is inviting our new Commissioner — whose father was killed by the IRA — to attend the next meeting of TARP, so he can tell his own story and hear others’ pain.
On July 31, 1975, the Miamis were returning to Dublin after a gig in Banbridge, Co Down, when they were stopped at a border checkpoint.
A bomb — placed in their van — exploded, taking the lives of two UVF men.
Musicians Fran O’Toole, Tony Geraghty and Brian McCoy were then shot dead on a country road, with Travers and Des Lee wounded.
Three men were convicted for the murders, one former and two serving Ulster Defence Regiment soldiers. They were later released under the terms of the 1998 Belfast Agreement.
But Stephen believes the PSNI and Harris have stopped them from getting the full truth.
After a long fight for information, the Belfast High Court ruled last August files about the massacre should be released — but the PSNI have now applied for Public Interest Immunity to keep them secret.
The documents could reveal the extent of collusion between the RUC and the Glenanne Gang, led by Robin ‘The Jackal’ Jackson.
They carried out a number of atrocities, including the murder of his three pals, the 1974 Dublin-Monaghan bombings and the gunning down of the Reavey brothers in 1976.
Stephen told the Irish Sun: “For 30 years, I bought into this idea it was a few bad apples. But when I saw the evidence I began to realise that the security forces were the bad guys.”
As PSNI assistant chief constable in charge of the Criminal Operations Department, Major Investigation Teams and Special Operations Branch, Harris worked with MI5.
Stephen said: “There is something seriously wrong with this appointment. It has done terrible damage to the confidence of Nationalists and Unionists who are looking for truth.
“They didn’t get it in the North and the very person who was part of an organisation that didn’t give it to them is coming down south.”
On his fight for answers, Stephen said: “First, they told us we didn’t have a case but we took one against the Chief Constable and PSNI, and against Britain’s Ministry of Defence. All along they were delaying.
“We were granted 72 of the 74 files at the end of August with two pending the results of another case.
“But, almost 11 months on, they’ve now told us they are going to apply for a Public Interest Immunity cert which means they will use that as an instrument to hide the evidence and we would not get them at all. These files will have information on Jackson — perhaps the greatest mass murderer in our history.
“We know he was responsible for at least 50 murders but they reckon it is between 135 and 150 murders.
“He was certainly at the Miami incident. He was the leader of the Glenanne Gang which were run by MI5 and special branch.
“To open the Jackson files would lift the lid on many atrocities.
“The fact they won’t show us the files adds credence to the belief they have something to hide.
“Who are the victims to look to for any kind of justice?
“There should be outrage that he is going to come down here and run the gardai.”
“We have been seriously and badly let down by all of the political parties because no one has raised a voice. We have had 43 years of torture for the victims and this is made worse by the appointment. At the very least, this is the most insensitive appointment made in years.” Stephen Travers, of The Miami Showband
Stephen explained his Seanad bid, telling the Irish Sun: “We have been seriously and badly let down by all of the political parties because no one has raised a voice. We have had 43 years of torture for the victims and this is made worse by the appointment. At the very least, this is the most insensitive appointment made in years.
“That’s why I’d like to get a seat in the Seanad so that I can officially speak for victims on both sides.”
He is also now inviting Harris to a TARP event in The Stone Boat pub in Kimmage, Dublin, on August 1 — a day after the 43rd anniversary of the Miami massacre.
Stephen added: “Drew Harris has our sincere condolences for what happened his father, but by the same token he should understand how other victims feel. And that is why we would like him to attend TARP.”
Loughinisland survivor Smyth told the Irish Sun: “We have all suffered the same inability to get information — at every step of the process.
“Drew Harris is part of the top brass that took steps to make sure we don’t get access.
“And the longer that they keep the files hidden, eventually we all die off and there’s no one left to fight the fight.”
Garda Siochana management said Harris’s appointment — which has been defended by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar — was “a matter for the Policing Authority, the Department of Justice and the Government”.
A Policing Authority spokeswoman said: “We nominated Drew Harris for appointment by Government to the position of Commissioner of the Garda Siochana because we were satisfied that he had the relevant experience, qualifications and expertise appropriate to the position, in accordance with the Act.”