Northern Ireland news

Wolfe Tones say they were targeted by Glennane Gang

Brian Warfield, left, with fellow members of Irish rebel band The Wolfe Tones.

The lead singer of rebel band, the Wolfe Tones, has said he believes they were the intended target of the loyalist attack that claimed the lives of three members of the Miami Showband.

The band, which had been tipped for huge success, were targeted after being stopped at a bogus patrol, manned by UDR and UVF members, in the early hours of July 31 1975.

Lead singer Fran O'Toole (28), guitarist Tony Geraghty (24) and trumpeter Brian McCoy (32) were killed in the bomb and gun attack as they returned to Dublin along Buskhill Road after a concert in Banbridge, Co Down.

All three were shot several times, before a bomb was thrown into the band's van to make it seem as though the group had been transporting explosives.

Two members of the UVF gang behind the attack, Harris Boyle and Wesley Somerville, were also killed when the bomb exploded prematurely.

UDR soldiers Thomas Raymond Crozier and Rodney Shane McDowell, and UVF member James Somerville, were later jailed for the atrocity.

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Speaking on the Blindboy podcast, Brian Warfield of The Wolfe Tones, said shortly before the Miami Showband attack the band were warned that their lives were at risk.

Adding that they had been warned not to travel across the border in the mid-70s following an incident at a GAA club outside of Kilkeel when they had to flee the area by driving across the Mournes.

Comedian Blindboy, real name Dave Chambers, interviewed the lead singer of the republican band about his time touring with the group for his online podcast.

Mr Warfield said: "I believe the massacre of the Miami was set up for the Wolfe Tones on that night".

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Recalling a gig they played in Kilkeel Co Down, the Wolfe Tones singer said, "We were playing in a big marquee ... the committee were bringing us down to the pub to have a pint before the gig.

"On our way down they said 'no you can't go into this pub', the RUC and the UDR were drinking in the front bar.

"So we had to go into the kitchen ... so we went into the kitchen and had a pint and a sandwich and went back and done the gig".

"After the gig I came out and the organisers said to me 'you can't go home the main road'.

"I said why is that and he said 'because there is a blockade waiting for you down there'.

"He said, 'we're going to take you over the mountains of Mourne', which they did".

Mr Warfield said they eventually reached Warrenpoint and made their way back to Dublin.

 

"The day we got back to Dublin the Special Branch said that the Wolfe Tones were not to go north again, that our lives were in danger.

"I believe that the Glenanne Gang were drinking in that front bar ... getting locked out of their mind ready to pick up the Wolfe Tones on the way home.

"And that would have been our fate, but up the mountains we went to safety".

Mr Warfield said after that they were forced to take precautions when playing in Northern Ireland.

"They brought us into concerts in hay trucks, in armoured cars, we travelled in Gerry Adams armoured car, we travelled in loads of different ways and we never all travelled together", he added.

A spokesperson for the Miami Showband justice campaign said it was the first time they had ever heard the allegation.

"The attack on the Miami was carefully planned and the band were always the intended target", the spokesman said.

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