Following yet another attack on a north Belfast memorial to three Scottish soldiers who were killed by the IRA, their families have called for the “deliberate disrespect” to stop immediately.
The latest act of desecration to the roadside memorial for brothers John and Joseph McCaig, and Dougald McCaughey from the Royal Highland Fusiliers, involved the theft of a stone flower pot left as a mark of respect.
The soldiers were killed by the IRA on March 10, 1971 after being lured from a bar in Belfast city centre to a remote mountain road in north Belfast by republican women.
A roadside memorial where the soldiers were killed at Whitebrae and a larger memorial at Ballysillan are among the most attacked in the Province.
David McCaughey, cousin of Dougald McCaughey, said: “It makes me sick to my stomach to know that the memorials to the boys are the most heavily attacked memorials in Northern Ireland.
“These are memorials to three innocent men, they were not bad people, yet their memory is the most disrespected by local gangs.”
Kris McGurk, director of Three Scottish Soldiers Campaign For Justice, said: “John, Joseph and Dougald did not deserve what happened to them, they were just three young innocent boys.
“Disrespect shown towards their memorials must stop once and for all.”
In a statement issued via the Three Scottish Soldiers Campaign For Justice, the families said: “Whilst we are relieved that, for the first time, the memorials themselves have not been vandalised, we were shocked and saddened to learn that a lovely item placed there was taken away.
“To desecrate a memorial is a terrible shame, regardless if the attack is on the memorials or anything placed by them – the principle is the same.”
The soldiers’ families added: “Our boys did not belong to gangs, they did not seek trouble or to hurt anyone, they were sent there to stop two communities from ripping themselves apart and tragically because of this had their lives taken in one of the vilest ways by the people they were there trying to protect.
“Even in death, their memory is being caught up in the crossfire of these twisted people, the constant and deliberate disrespect they are shown must stop immediately.”