Why the News Letter is backing private case against soldier killers

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

A News Letter decision to back a private legal action of the IRA murderers of three soldiers has boosted the prospect of justice for the trio.

The Scottish soldiers, Fusilier Dougald McCaughey, 23, Fusilier John McCaig, 17, and Fusilier Joseph McCaig, 18, were lured to their deaths in 1971.

It is almost 46 years since that grisly day, yet the case is still widely remembered. Of all the many murders during the Troubles there is something particularly spine-tingling and cowardly about the fact that the IRA killers told the young men that they were being taken to a party to meet girls.

Instead they were shot in the head and dumped by the side of the road. And note that this happened almost a year before the disgraceful Bloody Sunday killings, which are cited as justification for people turning against the British military and towards IRA terror.

Funding for the initial phase of a legal action is now close to the £10,000 target.

Our decision to back the legal action is taken on the grounds that elderly soldiers will soon go to trial for split second decisions that they took decades ago, while calculating IRA leaders – people who plotted terror over decades – enjoy a de facto amnesty. It seems inconceivable that a senior member of Sinn Fein with an IRA past would now be arrested in early morning raids and charged.

Also, the legacy investigation processes are one-sided. It is now said that 30% of PSNI legacy investigations are focused on state killings, which made up 9.6% of the overall Troubles dead. Many of those killings, such as of the IRA gangs at Coagh and Loughgall were plainly legitimate.

The soldier case also highlights Dublin’s record of extradition refusals, yet Dublin is once again agitating on legacy matters.

We hope this case helps to shine a spotlight on those extradition decisions by the Republic.

Republicans wanted this approach to the past. We cannot wait for a modestly funded Historical Investigations Unit to bring urgently needed balance to this process, when the HIU could itself turn in on the security forces, given the lack of paper trail against the IRA high command.

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