Netflix's gripping new documentary on The Troubles is an extremely powerful watch 2 months ago

Netflix's gripping new documentary on The Troubles is an extremely powerful watch

Collusion, murder, and corruption. An essential watch this weekend...

While there's no doubting the massive impact that Netflix has had on the documentary genre, there's a lingering sense that some of the same problems and cliches are starting to occur.

For example, some features have a tendency to go on for a few episodes too long and in terms of their aesthetic approach, it's understandable if documentary fans can adopt a mentality of 'I've seen this type of thing before'.

Granted, no two features are ever the same but if you're looking for something different, Netflix's ReMastered series has already proven itself to be extremely informative and educational.

By juxtaposing music with massive moments in history, the series constantly feels fresh and unlike other documentaries, each feature in the ReMastered series is a standalone entry.

On that note, their new feature, The Miami Showband Massacre, is an incredibly powerful watch, depicting one of the most heinous massacres that occurred during The Troubles.

On 31 July 1975 , five people were killed, including three members of beloved Irish cabaret band The Miami Showband, on the A1 road at Buskhill in County Down.

Aside from the band's massive status in Ireland - they were referred to as 'The Irish Beatles' and would constantly play to sold-out venues - what made the murder so shocking was the fact that the band were completely apolitical.

Of the six members, two were Protestants and the rest were Catholic. However, music was the only currency that they valued as religion was never an issue. As Stephen Travers (bassist) states in the documentary, when he was on stage, he didn't see Catholic or Protestant faces, he just saw the faces of people that wanted to enjoy themselves.

The murder of Fran O'Toole (described as the best soul singer in Ireland), Tony Geraghty and Brian McCoy was forever known as 'the day that music died' in Ireland as during the height of The Troubles, the Miami Showband gave people an escape and a moment of joy among the violence.

The attack was perpetrated by two members of Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), a loyalist paramilitary group, however, the crimes go much further. At the time, the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR), an infantry regiment of the British Army, was infiltrated by members of the UVF.

Travers believes that the bomb was planted in the band's car because the Crown wanted to seal the Irish border. By planting a bomb in their car as they travelled home to Dublin, he believes the Crown wanted to discredit the band and frame them as terrorists working in conjunction with the IRA.

The documentary also highlights the levels of corruption and collusion between the UVF, the police, and the British state.

We learn about the involvement of Robin 'The Jackal' Jackson, UVF Commander, an agent of the Crown. Prior to the Miami Showband Massacre, he was already a known murderer, but because he offered the British government intelligence, the Crown did nothing.

The killers were protected and evaded arrest as the truth was covered up.

Even when Margaret Thatcher was informed of the corrupt and improper policing in Northern Ireland, she ignored it.

On the topic of collusion, Travers states: "That's what the British do. They use locals vs locals and side with who they think will win. In this case, it was the UVF. That's how they built and protect their empire".

Ultimately,  former Intelligence Corps agent Captain Fred Holroyd, stated that the Miami killings were organised by the British intelligence officer Robert Nairac, together with the UVF's Mid-Ulster Brigade and its commander Robin 'The Jackal' Jackson.

Given the current social-political environment caused by Brexit, it's telling that The Miami Showband Massacre ends on a spirit of rapprochement, accountability and healing.

"We need to ensure that events of the past don't become part of the politics of the future. I think the simple message that needs to go out is that never again, there should be any victims," says Winston Irvine, a UVF contact willing to speak with Travers.

Since being released on Netflix, Stuart Sender's documentary has really moved those who have watched it.