Robert Foster, the Ulster Unionist Party’s North Belfast candidate in the forthcoming Assembly elections, has condemned remarks by a Scottish MSP regarding the three young Scottish soldiers, murdered on the outskirts of Belfast in 1971.
Mr Foster said:
“Last night I was shocked to read remarks on social media by a Glasgow SNP MSP, John Mason, regarding the murder of three young Scottish soldiers who were lured to their deaths and shot by the IRA in 1971, in which he appeared to imply that the dead men were somehow in the wrong, or that those responsible for their deaths were not murderers.
“In response to a question as to whether he would support a campaign to get justice for the murdered men, Mr Mason replied ‘happy to support all campaigns to bring about justice. But not taking sides between Irish and British.’
“This elicited the response “These were Scottish soldiers, not taking sides between Scottish soldiers and Irish murderers?”
“To which Mr Mason replied ‘You say Irish murderers. Others say Irish freedom fighters. I support Scottish soldiers if they do good but not if they do bad.’
“These remarks are incredibly offensive, not to mention insensitive. The facts are not in dispute. On the 10 March 1971 three Scottish soldiers - brothers John McCaig (aged 17) and Joseph McCaig (aged 18), along with Dougald McCaughey (23) of the Royal Highland Fusiliers - were murdered by the IRA on a remote road at Whitebrae after being lured there by republican women from a city centre bar. They were the fourth, fifth and sixth soldiers to be killed during the Troubles and the first to be killed off duty.
“The men have never been forgotten by the people of North Belfast and they are commemorated by a memorial at the site of their murder – which has been subject to repeated attack by republicans – and another at Ballysillan Avenue.
“For an elected SNP representative to imply that they were somehow in the wrong, or that those responsible for their deaths were not murderers is simply incredible. John Mason needs to acquaint himself with the full horror of the murder of these young men and apologise for his comments. Unless he really does believe that the shooting of three unarmed young men from Ayr and Glasgow at the side of a lonely road in north Belfast does not qualify as murder and was the work of ‘freedom fighters?’”