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Anger as memorial to murdered soldiers is attacked for 21st time

By Rebecca Black

Published 04/05/2015

Paint-covered memorial to the three soldiers yesterday
Paint-covered memorial to the three soldiers yesterday

A memorial to three Scottish soldiers lured to their death by female IRA members has been vandalised for the 21st time.

A coffee jar containing brown paint was smashed over the stone tribute overnight between Saturday and Sunday.

It is understood to be the 21st attack on the memorial at White Brae on the outskirts of north Belfast in the past five years.

The PSNI has confirmed it is investigating the attack, and is treating it as a hate crime.

Teenaged brothers John (17) and Joseph McCaig (18) from Ayr, and Dougald McCaughey (23) from Glasgow, were lured to the remote spot on March 10, 1971 by republican women following a night out.

They were killed off-duty and in civilian clothes having been lured from a city centre bar in Belfast, driven to the remote location above Ligoniel and shot while relieving themselves by the roadside.

Thousands attended rallies in Belfast and Carrickfergus on the day of the funerals.

In Belfast, the cenotaph at the City Hall was the focus of the mourning with 10,000 people attending, including workers from factories in a gathering that stopped the traffic in the city centre.

The memorial was erected by the Royal British Legion whose members have repaired it each time it is attacked.

A local branch spokesman said: "Under no circumstances will this deflect their determination in ensuring that this most heinous crime is not airbrushed out of history".

From right: John (17) and Joseph McCaig (18), and Dougald McCaughey (23) had been drinking on a night off-duty and were in their civilian clothes when they were killed in March 1971.
From right: John (17) and Joseph McCaig (18), and Dougald McCaughey (23) had been drinking on a night off-duty and were in their civilian clothes when they were killed in March 1971.
John (17, above) and Joseph McCaig (18), and Dougald McCaughey (23) had been drinking on a night off-duty and were in their civilian clothes when they were killed in March 1971.
John (17) and Joseph McCaig (18, above), and Dougald McCaughey (23) had been drinking on a night off-duty and were in their civilian clothes when they were killed in March 1971.
John (17) and Joseph McCaig (18), and Dougald McCaughey (23, above) had been drinking on a night off-duty and were in their civilian clothes when they were killed in March 1971.

DUP North Belfast candidate Nigel Dodds condemned the attack. He said: "It is utterly disgraceful and deplorable that this solemn memorial, funded by public subscription, has been attacked yet again, for the 21st time in five years.

"Those responsible should be in no doubt that these repeated attempts to damage and destroy this memorial will only reinforce the determination of the local Royal British Legion branch and the wider community not to give in to these acts of sectarian thuggery."

UUP spokesman and veteran Andy Allen blasted the attack as "an absolute disgrace" and that he was seeking a meeting with police.

He said: "Quite clearly there are those out there who have no respect or decency."

PSNI Inspector J Murphy said it was reported that paint was thrown over the memorial shortly after 12.30pm yesterday.

"Police are treating this as a hate crime and I'd ask anyone with information to contact Tennent Street Police Station on the non-emergency number 101," he said.

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