Let’s Dance

I found this very moving memorial quite by chance in Dublin, during the summer. For those of you unfamiliar with the background, the news article is reproduced below.

Let’s Dance – Miami Showband Memorial Dublin

From Wiki

The Miami Showband killings (also called the Miami Showband Massacre)[1] was an attack on 31 July 1975 by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), a loyalist paramilitary group. It took place on the A1 road at Buskhill in County Down, Northern Ireland. Five people were killed, including three members of The Miami Showband, who were one of Ireland’s most popular cabaret bands.

The band was travelling home to Dublin late at night after a performance in Banbridge. Halfway to Newry, their minibus was stopped at what appeared to be a military checkpoint where gunmen in British Army uniforms ordered them to line up by the roadside. At least four of the gunmen were soldiers from the British Army’s Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR), and all were members of the UVF. The Group planned to plant a timed explosive device on the vehicle to detonate once the band had reached the Republic of Ireland. Two of the gunmen, both soldiers, died when the time bomb they were hiding on the minibus exploded prematurely. The other gunmen then opened fire on the dazed band members, killing three and wounding two. It has been suggested that the bomb was meant to explode en route, so that the victim band members would appear to be IRA bomb-smugglers and stricter security measures would be established at the border.

Two serving UDR soldiers and one former UDR soldier were found guilty of the murders and received life sentences; they were released in 1998. Those responsible for the attack belonged to the Glenanne gang, a secret alliance of loyalist militants, rogue police officers, and UDR soldiers. There are also allegations that British military intelligence agents were involved. According to former Intelligence Corps agent Captain Fred Holroyd, the killings were organised by British intelligence officer Robert Nairac, together with the UVF’s Mid-Ulster Brigade and its commander Robin “The Jackal” Jackson. The Historical Enquiries Team investigated the killings and released their report to the victims’ families in December 2011. It confirmed that Jackson was linked to the attack by fingerprints. Documentary evidence, published in 2015, clears Robert Nairac of participation as it determines he was not in Northern Ireland when the ambush took place.

The massacre dealt a blow to Northern Ireland’s live music scene, which had brought young Catholics and Protestants together. In a report published in the Sunday Mirror in 1999, Colin Wills called the Miami Showband attack “one of the worst atrocities in the 30-year history of the Troubles”. Irish Times diarist Frank McNally summed up the massacre as “an incident that encapsulated all the madness of the time”.

The Memorial

A monument dedicated to the dead Miami Showband members was unveiled at a ceremony at Parnell Square North, Dublin, on 10 December 2007. Survivors Stephen Travers and Des McAlea were both present at the unveiling, as was the TaoiseachBertie Ahern, who made a tribute. The monument, entitled ‘Let’s Dance’ is made of limestone, bronze and granite, by County Donegal sculptor Redmond Herrity, and is at the site of the old National Ballroom, where the band often played.[94][95]

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