Russian spy case pledges ‘almost spitting in face of Troubles victims’

The wreath-laying ceremony at the memorial to  the three Scottish soldiers in north Belfast on Sunday
The wreath-laying ceremony at the memorial to the three Scottish soldiers in north Belfast on Sunday

A man who is campaigning on behalf of a trio of IRA victims has contrasted the government’s “disastrous” track record on solving Troubles crimes with its determination to solve the recent poisoning of an ex-Russian spy.

Kris McGurk was speaking to the News Letter on Sunday, as a commemoration service was held for three young Scottish soldiers who were slain by the IRA almost half-a-century ago.

The three men – John and Joseph McCaig, aged in their late teens, and Dougald McCaughey, aged in his 20s – had been drinking in a Belfast pub while off duty, and were lured to an isolated spot in the Ligoniel area of north Belfast where they were shot dead on March 10, 1971.

Yesterday, flowers were laid at the spot where a memorial has been set up in their honour, close to where they were killed.

Former veterans and a bugler attended the gathering.

The previous evening in Glasgow’s George Square, a memorial event had also been held at which the dead soldiers’ relatives were present.

Mr McGurk spoke at that event, where he highlighted the government’s strong commitments to hunt the attempted murderers of Sergei Skripal – a Russian intelligence defector who is thought to have been poisoned by Kremlin agents in Salisbury last week.

“They’re saying ‘justice will be done no matter who the culprit is, no matter where they’re hiding’,” said Mr McGurk, a 27-year-old former soldier based in Glasgow, who heads the Three Scottish Soldiers Justice Campaign.

But he said living up to such commitments is something “they failed to do for victims of the IRA”.

He added: “If the government is willing to say they’re fully committed to getting justice for this chap, to me it’s almost spitting in the faces of victims over here.

“They’ve had such a disastrous track record helping victims here.”

He said that he has written to Amber Rudd, the Conservative home secretary, to raise this point.

He also said that at the commemoration in Glasgow, the News Letter had been thanked for its coverage of the campaign to track the Scottish soldiers’ killers.