Belfast Telegraph

Scottish independence: Soldiers will have died in vain if it's a Yes vote, says family of man killed by IRA

By Rebecca Black

Three Scottish soldiers killed by the IRA will have died in vain if Scotland goes independent, a relative has said.

David McCaughey is the cousin of Dougald McCaughey, one of three young Scottish soldiers who were lured to their death in 1971.

Dougald (23) had been socialising in Belfast city centre along with brothers John (17) and Joseph McCaig (18) of the Royal Highland Fusiliers.

They met a group of women who brought them to the isolated White Brae on the outskirts of north Belfast. An IRA team then shot them.

A third McCaig brother had been due to join the soldiers on their evening out, however he was instead called to do guard duty at their base in Girdwood Barracks.

They were the fourth, fifth and sixth soldiers to be killed during the Troubles and the first to be killed off-duty.

In total, 763 British soldiers were killed in Northern Ireland, more than 100 of them from Scotland.

Mr McCaughey, from Glasgow, travels to Belfast several times a year to visit the memorial to his cousin and the McCaig brothers.

He told the Belfast Telegraph that he was voting No to an independent Scotland because he didn't want to see a separating from Northern Ireland.

"The three boys will have died in vain if Scotland gets independence," he said.

"I have been coming to Belfast for years and have made a lot of good friends there. It's actually been people in Northern Ireland that have helped me most with this."

Mr McCaughey's comments come after the Army's former chief of staff Lord Richard Dannatt made a plea to Scots to vote No.

"Do the families of Scottish soldiers who lost their lives between 1969 and 2007 to preserve the territorial integrity of the UK now just say, 'Well, it no longer matters'?" he queried.

"I really worry on behalf of the wives, mothers and friends of those Scottish soldiers who died to keep Northern Ireland in the UK.

"I worry particularly about the extent that we will be letting them down if Scotland disappears from our country, just on the whim of a few thousand voters willing to gamble on an uncertain future rather than staying within the United Kingdom, whose track record is second to none in Europe."

No one has ever been convicted for the murder of the three soldiers in the honeytrap killings.

Mr McCaughey said if Scotland left the UK, the chance of convictions would become even more remote.

He has received a report by the Historical Enquiries Team, but feels it has left many unanswered questions which he and the family were keen to pursue.

"We have had the HET report, but we still have questions, we have been trying to get in touch with them," he said.

"It's only going to be harder if Scotland leaves the UK.

"We've had to wait almost 45 years for justice, I wonder will my grandchildren even see it."

He said he felt like the Scottish and Northern Irish have more in common than the rest of the UK, saying soldiers from both regions were used "like cannon fodder" in wars.

"I've got Ulster blood running through my veins," he said, adding that he would feel isolated from Northern Ireland if Scotland became independent.

The memorial to the three soldiers has been attacked 15 times since it was erected five years ago at the spot where they were killed.

The last attack happened last week when 'IRA' was smeared on the stone in green paint.

Mr McCaughey said the attacks made him and the rest of his family feel "sick to their stomachs".

He added that he intended to vote against Scottish independence today.

"If it's not broke, don't fix it," he said.

Story so far

On March 10, 1971, three young Scottish soldiers – Dougald McCaughey, John McCaig and Joseph McCaig – were socialising in Belfast city centre.

They met a group of women who lured them to the hills above Belfast where they were shot dead by the IRA. No one has ever been convicted of the murders. A memorial stone to them has been repeatedly attacked.

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