Jackal warned to lie low after showband murders

INFAMOUS Mid-Ulster UVF member Robin Jackson was tipped off that there was evidence connecting him to the Miami Showbands killings in 1975, a report has said.

Jackson, known as ‘the Jackal’ and who died in 1998, claimed during an interview with police that he was told to “clear as there was a wee job up the country I would be done for.”

From his home in Donaghcloney, Jackson is alleged to have organised and committed a series of killings against the Catholic, Nationalist and Republican community, although he was never convicted in connection with any killing and never served any lengthy prison terms.

The Historical Enquiries Team report found that he had been told by a senior RUC officer to lie low after being linked by fingerprints to a silencer attached to a Luger pistol used in the murders.

Three members of the Showband were killed in July 1975 as they travelled back to Dublin after playing a gig in Banbridge.

The band was flagged down at a bogus army checkpoint in the early hours of 31 July. The gunmen, who were wearing UDR uniforms, instructed the band members to line up at a ditch and state their names and addresses.

Two of the attackers were killed when a bomb unexpectedly exploded as they placed it in the back of the band’s van.

The remaining gunmen then opened fire on the Miami Showband, shooting Tony Geraghty eight times in the back, Brian McCoy was shot nine times, while Fran O’Toole was shot as he lay on the ground face up. Other band members pretended to be dead in order to escape being murdered.

The UVF released a statement following the murders which said the loyalist paramilitary organisation’s actions were “justified” and “the killing of the three Showband members should be regarded as justifiable homicide”.

Commenting on the report, band member Des McAlea, who survived the attack, said the findings were “shocking” and “mind-blowing”, adding: “It’s been a long time but we’ve got justice at last.

“The fact that there was collusion in this is such a tragedy for all of us concerned,” he said.

“To think that people who were supposed to be protecting us were actually involved in this terrible tragedy.”