Families of three Scottish soldiers murdered by the IRA have praised the role of the News Letter in hitting a £10k fund-raising target to launch a civil action against their killers.
Although the campaign was only launched mid-January, donations from over 337 supporters had reached the £10,165 by Monday.
Fusiliers Dougald McCaughey (23), John McCaig (17) and Joseph McCaig (18) were drinking in a Belfast pub in 1971 when they were lured away on the pretext of meeting girls, and then shot. Nobody has ever stood trial for what became known as the “honey-trap” murders.
However the lawyers who brought a successful civil action which saw four men found liable for the 1998 Omagh bomb are now attempting a similar move against the 1971 IRA killers. They needed £10,000 to launch the action.
David McCaughey, a cousin of two of the young soldiers, said the News Letter support in the past few days has made a huge difference.
“The publicity you have given it is second to none,” he said. “The coverage you gave the campaign over the weekend was amazing.”
He added: “I think the success of this campaign is going to result in success for other families too.”
Mr McCaughey said he had been taking a number of phone calls over the weekend about the campaign. “I just need to keep thanking everyone who has made a contribution. I am quite humbled by the amount of people that have given.”
Campaign director Kris McGurk also credited the News Letter.
“I was speaking to two of the families about it all and they said you [The News Letter] were fantastic,” he said. “You can see in the last 4-5 days we have made a real push towards the target.”
Scottish National Party (SNP) MSP John Mason made headlines when he was asked via Twitter to support the campaign. He responded that he was “not taking sides between Irish and British” and said that some people refer to the IRA as “Irish freedom fighters”.
DUP MP Sammy Wilson said the refusal of SNP leaders to condemn his comments was “nothing short of scandalous” and had shown the party to be “nothing less than Sinn Fein in kilts”.
Mr Mason later went on to say his comments were general in nature but still declined to offer his support to the legal action. On Monday the SNP said his comments “do not represent the position of the SNP and are not endorsed by the party.”
READ MORE: Why the News Letter is backing the campaign