Query over Holyrood stance on ISIS versus IRA terror

Kris McGurk at the monument for the three Scottish soldiers murdered in the IRA honeytrap attack in 1971.
Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Kris McGurk at the monument for the three Scottish soldiers murdered in the IRA honeytrap attack in 1971. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Campaigners for three Scottish Soldiers who were murdered by the IRA have expressed frustration that the Scottish government expressed solidarity with Westminster on this week’s terror attack, yet appears reluctant to support their battle for justice.

The Three Scottish Soldiers campaign group is seeking to take a private action against the IRA killers of Fusiliers Dougald McCaughey, 23, John McCaig, 17, and Joseph McCaig, 18, who were shot in Belfast in 1971.

The three Scottish Soldiers: from left, Dougald McCaughey, John McCaig, Joseph McCaig  from the Royal Highland Fusiliers. The trio were lured to their murdersby the IRA in March 1971 in north Belfast.

The three Scottish Soldiers: from left, Dougald McCaughey, John McCaig, Joseph McCaig from the Royal Highland Fusiliers. The trio were lured to their murdersby the IRA in March 1971 in north Belfast.

In February SNP MSP John Mason intially refused to support the campaign, prompting Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to apologise to the families and offer a meeting with Minister for Veterans Keith Brown, which took place this week.

But campaign director Kris McGurk said they came away “disappointed”.

“We asked the Scottish government to write to the PSNI, the Met and Irish police to ask for information on the suspects, and financial support. But Mr Brown told us not to get our hopes up.

“Nicola Sturgeon expressed strong support for those caught in the Westminster attack this week [claimed by ISIS], but it seems we cannot get any practical support for our our campaign. But what is the difference between today’s terrorists [ISIS] and yesterday’s terrorists [IRA]?”

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Pic: PA Wire

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Pic: PA Wire

Campaign lawyer Matt Jury says the minister said their requests were a matter for Westminster. “But how can the deaths of three innocent off-duty Scottish soldiers, murdered by terrorists, not concern Holyrood?” he asked.

The Scottish government responded that the the First Minister and Veterans Minister have expressed their support for the families’ campaign, but added that it would be “inappropriate for ministers to comment on proposed legal action as this is a matter for individuals and for the courts to consider”. The Veterans Minister explored options with the families and agreed to update them after Easter, it added.

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