‘Let Moygashel keep their loyalist killer poster as a mark of shame’

The poster commemorating Wesley Somerville which has been put up in Moygashel.
The poster commemorating Wesley Somerville which has been put up in Moygashel.

PARENTS in Moygashel have been asked whether they want their kids to grow up like the loyalist killer commemorated on a poster in the village.

The comments were made by Stephen Travers, a survivor of the Miami Showband massacre in response to the poster of UVF man Wesley Somerville who was blown by the bomb he had planted on the musicians minibus.

PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 27/3/98: The Miami Showband.

PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 27/3/98: The Miami Showband.

In a stinging statement, Mr Travers said he hoped the poster will remain permanently in Moygashel to shame those behind its erection.

“I believe it will force the question: How much further can a cause be disgraced if it now sinks to honouring the cowardly and wicked murder of innocent and defenceless, Protestant and Catholic musicians?” said Mr Travers

“How many genuinely responsible and loving Moygashel parents, when holding their pyjama-clad babies in their arms before bedtime, will point up to that poster of Wesley Somerville and truthfully say “This is who I want you to be when you grow up”?

“I am indebted to those who erected that banner.

“My 2007 book and the recently completed Miami Showband movie screenplay are simply much larger extensions of this Moygashel exercise as they too will hold up a mirror to society and ask “Who are your heroes?”

In July 1975, the Miami Showband was driving back to Dublin after a performance at the Castle Ballroom in Banbridge when its minibus (driven by trumpeter Brian McCoy) was flagged down by the armed men. While a gunman took down their names and addresses, Somerville and another UVF member, Harris Boyle, placed a ten pound time bomb in the rear of the minibus.

As the rear door was closed, clumsy soldering on the clock used as timer caused the device to detonate prematurely, blowing the minibus apart and instantly killing Somerville and Boyle. The remaining UVF gunmen opened fire on the five band members, killing trumpeter Brian McCoy, lead singer Fran O’Toole and guitarist Tony Geraghty.

In a statement to the TIMES, last week, Anne Cadwallader said Somerville was a “prime suspect” in the murder of Coalisland pharmacist, Patrick Falls, in November 1974.

Ms Cadwallader, whose book Lethal Allies also names Wesley Somerville as a suspect in the murders of Arthur Mulholland and Eugene Doyle at Hayden’s Bar, Rock, in February 1975, said there was “little doubt that Wesley Somerville was a key player in the gang of loyalists who spread death and fear around Dungannon and wider area in the mid-1970s”.

“He chose to attack defenceless families in their homes or bars or musicians travelling home”, she added. “This banner, blatantly commemorating a mass murderer, cannot do the reputation of the village of Moygashel any good – especially after last week’s threat to landlords if they rent property to people from outside the area.”