A private bid to get justice for three young Scottish soldiers murdered by the IRA is on the verge of beginning after a surge of donations over the weekend.
The News Letter has been backing an effort by the lawyers who won a civil action against the 1998 Omagh bombers to bring another such legal action, this time against the murderers of the soldier trio in Belfast in 1971.
The case sparked widespread revulsion and public protests at the time, after the three Royal Highland Fusiliers soldiers were lured to their killings on the pretext that they were being taken to a party to meet girls.
Last week there was uproar when an SNP politician suggested that IRA members who killed the three Scottish soldiers were “freedom fighters”.
The men thought to be responsible for the murders are said to be living in the Republic. No-one has ever faced trial for the murders and the Irish authorities refused to extradite one of the men.
The lawyers behind the case, and the veterans groups that are supporting it, believe that the action is necessary now that elderly soldiers are facing prosecution for Troubles murders and there is so little progress against unsolved IRA terrorist murders.
The private action needs £10,000 to get going.
On Friday it had raised a total of £6,700 but this had risen to £9,300 last night after the News Letter backed the campaign on Saturday.
A successful action will then need much more money to be feasible but the speed with which money has been raised over the weekend, before serious UK-wide fund raising has even been tried, shows how much support there is for the plight of veterans of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, and the determination to balance the scales in legacy cases.
“If the authorities will not bring the killers to justice, then their family and loved ones will act to do so instead,” say the organisers of the case on their crowd funding web page (see panel below).
Fusilier Dougald McCaughey, 23, and brothers Fusilier John McCaig, 17, and Fusilier Joseph McCaig, 18, were off-duty and in bars on the afternoon of March 10 1971 when three IRA terrorists befriended them and took them away. The trio were shot in the head and left by a road on the outskirts of north Belfast.
The lawyers in the case are McCue & Partners LLP, the London-based experts in counter-terror litigation.
Matthew Jury of the firm said last night: “The families are encouraged and grateful for the News Letter’s and public’s support. This will allow them to start the process, after all these years, to hold the soldiers’ murderers to account.”
The News Letter has been backing the civil action against the murderers of the Scottish soldiers. Alistair Bushe the editor said: “The authorities have failed to get justice for hundreds of unsolved IRA murders, so we urge readers to donate to this appeal.”
• Send cheques payable to ‘The Three Scottish Soldiers Fund’ to c/o McCue & Partners LLP, 4th Floor, 158 Buckingham Palace Rd, London, SW1W 9TR.
Alternatively, you can visit the following web pages: www.crowdjustice.org/case/three-scottish-soldiers