Ceremony for UVF men killed in Miami attack

The memorial to UVF men Wesley Sommerville and Harris Boyle.
The memorial to UVF men Wesley Sommerville and Harris Boyle.

A band parade in Portadown has commemorated the two loyalists killed by their own bomb in the Miami Showband massacre 40 years ago.

The event was during the same weekend as commemorative events at the murder scene, organised by survivors of the July 1975 killings.

Two UVF men – Harris Boyle and Wesley Somerville – died when their bomb went off prematurely at the Buskhill Road attack between Banbridge and Newry.

Saturday’s parade on the Killicomaine area included a ceremony at the estate’s memorial wall dedicated to the UVF men. The NI Parades Commission website showed that 15 flute bands took part in the parade, organised by the Mid Ulster/Armagh 36 Division Regimental Bands Association.

It was led by a group of supporters, all of whom laid wreaths or floral tributes at a recently-reconstructed memorial wall at the corner of Princess Way and Gloucester Avenue.

The commission website listed a total of 15 bands from various parts of Mid Ulster, including Portadown, Armagh, Cookstown, Castlederg and Bessbrook.

The bands paused as they approached the wall and added more wreaths and floral tributes.

It was estimated that 400 band members took part, with a similar number of onlookers.

The wall includes a Poppy Montage, a UVF declaration and a memorial plaque to the two men, stating they were ‘killed in action’.

And last Saturday night’s event included a speech that such events were now in the past and it was time to look to the future.

On the previous day, on the quiet country road at Buskhill, Miami survivor singer Des McAlea (stage name Des Lee) laid flowers on the exact anniversary date, July 31.

And on Sunday, Mr McAlea – along with fellow Miami survivors Ray Millar and Stephen Travers – took part in a public ceremony, attended by dozen of friends, family and residents of the quiet, rural area. Also there was the band’s manager Brian Maguire.