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SNP politician apologises after suggesting IRA killers of three Scottish soldiers were “freedom fighters”

MSP John Mason (left) made was asked about the deaths of the McCaig brothers (right) and another soldier. Source: Getty
MSP John Mason (left) was asked about the deaths of the McCaig brothers (right) and another soldier (Source: Getty)

A SCOTTISH National Party MSP has said he is “extremely sorry” after he posted a tweet comparing three IRA killers to “freedom fighters”.

John Mason made the remarks on Twitter after being asked to support a justice campaign for the three soldiers, who were killed in Northern Ireland in 1971.

Brothers John McCaig (17) and Joseph McCaig (18), along with Dougald McCaughey (23) were lured away from a Belfast bar on the pretext of meeting women.

They were instead taken to North Belfast where they were shot dead.

Nobody ever stood trial for the killings despite mass protests and a resulting political crisis, which led to the resignation of Northern Ireland Prime Minister James Chichester-Clark.

Responding to a tweet calling for him to support the justice campaign for the three soldiers, Mr Mason replied that he was “not taking sides between Irish and British”.

He added: “You say Irish murderers, others say Irish freedom fighters. I support Scottish soldiers if they do good but not if they do bad.”

John Mason's tweet. Picture: Twitter
John Mason’s tweet (Picture: Twitter)

A relative of one of the soldiers told the BBC’s Good Morning Ulster programme this week that the tweet was an “insult” to his family.

David McCaughey called for Scottish First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon to issue a public apology and to take disciplinary action against Mr Mason.

Mr Mason has issued a public apology in which he says he is “extremely sorry” for any offence caused by his comments.

He said: “I deeply regret the offence and upset that has been caused to the relatives who lost loved ones and am extremely sorry that this has happened.

“I condemn and deplore all acts of terrorism.”

A memorial for the three soldiers was placed on the site of their death in 2009 and has been targeted by vandals, most recently in 2015.

Police labelled the act of vandalism a hate crime.

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Aidan Lonergan

Aidan Lonergan is a Digital Reporter with The Irish Post. You can follow him on Twitter @ajlonergan

One comment on “SNP politician apologises after suggesting IRA killers of three Scottish soldiers were “freedom fighters””

  1. Tamas Marcuis

    I spoke about this story to someone recently. A different interpretation revealed itself.
    These three soldiers were attempting to make contact with the Ulster Volunteer Force with the intention of joining. Foolishly they in fact only made contact with some individual connected to the IRA, possibly posing as a UVF recruiter. He directed them to a meeting at a particular bar from where they were led elsewhere and killed. For obvious reasons the British Army has always been a little shy about discussing the case in too much detail.

    Other cases such as the attempt by two English soldiers who drove armed with hand guns to a funeral of suspected IRA members also finds the British Army quiet when asked for details. Why were these two soldiers there since they would have been told to stay away from the area, as all other Army personnel? Both were disarmed by the crowd and removed by the IRA they were later found dead on a piece of waste ground.

    An odd game the British play where they are always innocent heavily bystanders and every one else is a terrorist.


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