Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Irish Police Boss Drew Harris and Two Unsolved Murder Cases – 1975 Miami Showband Massacre; 2007 Paul Quinn Murder

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The Masks of Garda Boss Drew Harris

If you knew nothing about Irish 6 County whataboutery you might think “Fair enough – Garda Boss Drew Harris is doing the decent thing”. Maybe there are better questions : What mask is the former Royal Ulster Constabulary / Police Service of Northern Ireland high-flier wearing? Is he a “fox in charge of the hen-house”? Or, should we trust a “warm and friendly” chap “committed to justice”?

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has visited the barn in Co Monaghan where Paul Quinn was battered to death by the IRA, and has pledged to help bring his killers to justice.

But, when you know about Harris’s obstructive behaviour towards survivors of the 1975 Miami Showband massacre, you correctly suspect the motives of a powerful state agent who shields British State killers.

Garda boss Drew Harris and his legacy – Stephen Travers, Miami Showband, Aftermath of a loyalist murder spree.

Miami Showband Massacre survivor Stephen Travers also criticised Mr Drew Harris’s appointment, describing it as “putting the fox in charge of the hen house”.

Stephen Travers, survivor of the Miami Showband Massacre, is second from the right in this picture. He is flanked by Eamonn McCann and Kate Nash.

The 2007 Murder of Paul Quinn

The Belfast Telegraph has published a well-sourced story by Suzanne Breen updating readers with news about the bestial killing of Paul Quinn in 2007.

Paul’s mother Breege welcomed Mr Harris’s personal interest in the case and said she believed the net was closing on those responsible for her son’s murder.

The 21-year-old from Cullyhanna in south Armagh was beaten to death with iron bars and nail-studded cudgels by a gang of around a dozen men in the barn across the border in Oram in October 2007.

He had previously clashed with the son of the local IRA commander.

Mrs Quinn said: “I have never given up hope that Paul’s murderers will be brought to justice.

“They will be sleeping a lot less soundly in their beds now gardai are stepping things up. Every day, they will wonder if it’s their last day of freedom.

“Every night, they will wonder if there’ll be a knock on their door in the morning that will lead to them being held to account for what they did to my son.”

The Quinns met the Garda Commissioner in Dublin last month. On Monday, he visited Castleblaney Garda Station where he was briefed on the current status of the murder investigation.

He also travelled to the barn in Oram where Paul was fatally assaulted.

Mrs Quinn said: “Drew Harris told me he was committed to getting justice for Paul when I met him a few weeks ago.

“I think it’s highly symbolic that he actually visited the barn. It shows his personal interest in the case.

“The commissioner said that progress had been made in Paul’s murder investigation following a serious case review.

“Drew Harris was very warm and friendly, and we have a lot of faith in him. The Garda have been brilliant to us from the very start, and we have placed a huge amount of trust in them.

“I would ask anyone with information to contact the Garda or the PSNI. No family should have to endure what we’ve endured.

“It’s not Paul dying, it’s the death that he got which is unbearable for us. Every bone beneath his neck was broken. No mother should have to see her son in a coffin like that.”

The Quinns have been given fresh hope as new DNA techniques are being used to re-examine old exhibits in the investigation, and a dedicated scientist from Forensic Science Ireland is now working on the case.

Around 200 exhibits seized in Co Monaghan are being re-examined for traces of DNA, including clothing from some of the suspects and a vehicle.

Gardai have said they plan to re-interview suspects and those who have made statements about the murder once Covid-19 restrictions allow them to do so.

The PSNI is also set to examine items it has seized over the years. The re-examination follows a review by the gardai’s serious crime review team, which was completed in late 2019.

In the years since Paul’s murder detectives have followed 1,900 lines of inquiry, made 20 arrests and taken over 700 statements.

Gardai believe the gang who abducted and killed Paul spent weeks planning the attack.”

To be clear – no criticism should be directed at the journalist Suzanne Breen , Briege Quinn, or anyone else who honestly helps get to the truth about the bestial murder of Paul Quinn.

Unclean Hands of Garda Boss Drew Harris

Miami Showband Massacre Survivor Stephen Travers on the Garda Commissioner Drew Harris :

When he was part of the PSNI, Mr Harris had blocked, delayed and frustrated every effort to “find out who shot our lads”, he told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

On July 31st, 1975, a bus carrying five members of the Miami Showband, one of Ireland’s most popular cabaret bands, was flagged down at what appeared to be a British military checkpoint as they were travelling south to Dublin.

The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) had intended to plant a bomb on to the musicians’ bus and have it detonate later. Two UVF men were killed by their own bomb as it detonated before they could plant it in the vehicle.

Mr Travers said the appointment of Mr Harris is “a massive step back and will not help with reconciliation”.

Mr Travers said Mr Harris might swear allegiance when appointed Garda Commissioner, but Mr Travers would prefer “if he held up his hands and said here are the files, here are the people responsible.”

The appointment, he said, was “a hammer blow to every victim of collusion.”

The above quotations, including Stephen Travers’ negative assessments of Garda Boss Drew Harris, are from an Irish Times story dated Wednesday June 27 2018.

John Meehan September 1 2021

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