This piece was originally published by The Justice Gap.
The Scottish parliament will consider the campaign for ‘truth and justice’ on behalf of the families of soldiers murdered during the Troubles. Conservative MSP Maurice Corry has tabled a motion seeking a debate focusing on the cases of Dougald McCaughey, John McCaig and Joseph McCaig, who were killed by the IRA in March 1971. Their murderers have never been brought to justice.
On the night they died, having been befriended in a bar, the three young men were persuaded to share a lift to a party. Later, they were shot in the head at a roadside not far from Belfast. Three children out playing found their bodies the following day.
Their injuries were so grave that the men, aged between 17 and 23, were returned home in closed caskets. The coroner told the inquest jury at the time: ‘You may think that this was not only murder but one of the vilest crimes ever heard in living memory.’
The parliamentary motion follows a crowdfunding campaign in 2017 that raised almost £13,000 from 465 individual donors. The money was to be spent in finding out what information the police currently have and beginning an application for legal aid funding. ‘The military didn’t fail them,’ said Kris McGurk, the campaign’s director, last February. ‘The government failed them.’
Calling for a debate in Parliament and welcoming support from the Conservatives, the Three Scottish Soldiers Campaign for Justice now hopes that the case will receive cross-party backing.
‘The Scottish government should be supporting the Scottish victims that the Troubles in Northern Ireland created,’ said Kris McGurk, the campaign’s director. ‘I believe Scottish victims are mostly overlooked, the McCaig and McCaughey families have endured one of the worst atrocities the United Kingdom has ever seen at home and to date have had little support. The campaign is calling all MSPs to support the motion raised by Maurice Corry.’
Part of the campaign’s purpose is to redress what it sees as an imbalance between the retrospective pursuit of UK soldiers for actions in Northern Ireland and the impunity enjoyed by former IRA members. Only one attempt to extradite the three soldiers’ killers has been made, which the Irish government rejected on the basis that the murders were ‘political, not criminal’.
This week’s motion also attempts to encourage disclosure from both the police and government. It urges the release of suspects’ names as well as ‘all of the other relevant information’ to families like the McCaigs and McCaugheys.
Maurice Corry, the Conservative MSP who brought the issue forward in Parliament, commented: ‘In some cases, families have been waiting for decades to find out the truth about what happened and that’s not right. Now is the time to come together and do what they can to recognise the pain and suffering of the families and help bring them closure which is why I have brought my motion forward and will seek a debate in the Scottish Parliament to help highlight the issue.’