ReMastered season 1, episode 6 recap: The Miami Showband Massacre


Episode 6 of Netflix series ReMastered looks at the Miami Showband Massacre in Northern Ireland in 1975. Did the British government kill the Irish band?

Northern Ireland in 1975 was a pretty dangerous place, regularly in the cross-hairs of fighting terrorists — a time often called “The Troubles.” What was the fighting all about? Unionists/loyalists (mostly Protestants), wanted Northern Ireland to remain within the United Kingdom. Irish nationalists/republicans (usually Catholics), wanted Northern Ireland to leave the United Kingdom and join a united Ireland. Simultaneously, the Miami Showband was considered Ireland’s most glamorous band (as Netflix series ReMastered puts it). Stephen Travers, the band’s bass player, plays a substantial role in guiding us through the events before, during and after the terrorist attack on his band.

Born in South Tipperary, Ireland, Travers says his own father was an Irish nationalist, yet still joined the British army. In other words, for his family, there wasn’t a raging hatred at the loyalists. Travers himself was more interested in playing bass, considering it a natural interest and gift. Like many, he was drawn to music after being instantly attracted to the Beatle-mania.

Given the turmoil of the early 1970s, music was released for the public — like a therapy. The Miami Showband consisted of Fran O’Toole, lead vocalist, bandleader Des Lee, trumpet player Brian McCoy, drummer Ray Millar, guitarist Tony Geraghty. O’Toole, Geraghty, and McCoy all died in the attack. In so many words, Travers maintains the band was apolitical.

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July 31, 1975

On this date in Banbridge, the band was traveling after a show. They were flagged down by machine-gun wielding men in military outfits and told to get out of their van. Travers distinctly remembers a man with a British accent. Not long after being stopped and having the van examined, the vehicle exploded. After it was left ablaze, gunshots went off. Lee and Travers were wounded but lived to tell (and expose) the tale. Travers maintains that one of the attackers asked, “Are you sure all those bastards are dead?” Incredibly, Travers re-joined the newly established band not long after, though he says he shouldn’t have gone back due to trauma. After touring a bit more, he moved to London for a while.


ReMastered reveals how the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), a loyalist paramilitary group, was behind the attack. UVF members Thomas Crozier and James McDowell were arrested fairly quickly. However, for a while, it was thought there was insufficient evidence to pin anything on Robin Jackson, AKA “The Jackal,” Still, author Anne Cadwallader, says Jackson was a prolific murderer, and would even show off burn marks he received from the Miami Showband explosion. Colin Wallace, a military intelligence officer, says Robin Jackson was likely guilty of stealing weapons from the Ulster Defense Regiment.

ReMastered says Robin Jackson’s fingerprints were found on a gun’s silencer. Also, shortly after the massacre, the detective who questioned Jackson issued a complaint that officers in his department tipped Jackson off about the silencer. Among other things, Jackson was linked to the Monaghan explosion in 1974. It’s believed The jackal was an agent for British military intelligence.
Also, Colin Wallace had wanted to investigate people who were protected from the investigation, which meant he couldn’t do anything.


In 2005, at around the 30th anniversary of the event, the Historical Enquiries Team was created, ostensibly to examine the event. Stephen Travers notes that HET set up by the British government, and was annoyed by their lack of interest in the man with the British accent he heard that day. Travers says they wanted to blame the Irish, not the British establishment. To get to the truth, Travers arranges for a meeting with a leader of the UVF, with ReMastered tagging along. Cryptically, the man he meets is called “the craftsman,” and he claims the UVF didn’t intend to kill anyone, just wanting the bomb to go off to create a message. Still, Travers isn’t buying it, noting that fuse on it was short. Interestingly, the man doesn’t deny the presence of a British officer.

ReMastered suggests that man was Captain Robert Nairac, who was himself killed by the IRA in 1977. In fact, there’s archive footage of politician Ken Livingstone being interviewed about it. The reporter accuses him of a “gratuitous insult to the memory of the dead” by bringing up Robert Nairac’s name. However, it’s claimed that Nairac had been seen with Robin Jackson, and others related to the UVF.  Travers says the Brits used locals against locals (in this case, the UVF against the IRA). He also his band was targeted so the British could seal the border, preventing the IRA from going south. Perhaps more insidious, they may have wanted to frame the Miami Showband as bomb-carriers for the IRA!

Additionally, when intelligence officer Fred Holroyd alleged collusion between the British government paramilitaries, ReMastered says he was put in the Netley psychiatric hospital. Also, to discredit Colin Wallace’s similar case, it’s believed Wallace was framed for murder! (Seriously, though, doesn’t doing both of those things sound like traceable overkill?)

Renewed hope

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Travers says he was changed after the bombing, but the quest for the truth became his passion. As he tells ReMastered, “I want this superpower to know that they’ve been in a fight, because I won’t back down.” He wants Britain to acknowledge its crime. Fortunately, after a mere 42 years, new documents have been released. It’s revealed that Britain’s MI5 asked UVF to assassinate Irish prime minister Charlie Haughey. The UVF refused. Another UVF letter reveals complaints of receiving faulty bombs and detonators from MI5, including the words, “as in the case of the Miami Showband”! If that’s not a possible smoking gun, what is?!

Travers meets with Winston Irvine, a UVF contact, telling Irvine that he’d be okay with granting amnesty in exchange for truth. Finally, before the episode ends with new music by Travers and his band, he reminds us: “People who do these kinds of things [engage in terrorism] are afraid of beauty.” Indeed, this was literally a case of destructive politics against creativity and art.

What are your thoughts on this ReMastered episode? Let us know in the comments!