Northern Ireland news

Belfast woman thought to have helped lure three Scottish soldiers to their deaths

The photofit picture of the two female suspects released at the time of the triple murder.

A BELFAST woman, now in her 70s, is suspected of belonging to the IRA unit which lured three off-duty British soldiers to their deaths almost 50 years ago.

The Irish News understands that she is one of two women, thought to have lured the soldiers to their deaths and who police released a photofit appeal for at the time, who is still alive.

The families of the three victims John (17) and Joseph McCaig,(18), and their friend Dougald McCaughey (23) are set to meet with the PSNI's Legacy Investigations Branch following new evidence uncovered earlier this month.

A BBC Spotlight programme aired last night revealed further details of former Paratrooper turned IRA man Paddy O'Kane, who died in 2009. He was a lead suspect in the murders that may have involved up to ten people, including two women who were suspected of helping lure the soldiers to their deaths.

Lawyers acting for the families have also asked for a new inquest into the murders of the three soldiers, who were found shot dead in Ligoniel, north Belfast, on March 10 1971.

O'Kane was granted a so-called 'on-the-run' letter in 2007, giving him confirmation that he was not wanted by any police force in the UK. He died in 2009 in Shannon, Co Clare, where he had lived since 1976.

The Royal Highland Fusiliers had been drinking in a city centre pub at Belfast's Corn Market and then later Kelly's Cellars when they were lured to their deaths by the IRA.

David McCaughey (Relative of Dougald McCaughey) at the monument for the three Scottish soldiers murdered in the IRA honeytrap attack in 1971.

Kieran Conway, himself a former IRA man who knew O'Kane, told Spotlight that he had spoken openly about his involvement in the killings.

"I believe any man that could execute three young Scottish soldiers in that manner must have been a psychopath," he said.

O'Kane was also listed as wanted for questioning about the Kingsmills killings for many years but never questioned about the massacre.

Members of O'Kane's family confirmed to Spotlight that he was involved in the killings.

From north Belfast, he joined the Parachute Regiment in 1957 and served in Cyprus and Jordan before joining the IRA at the start of the Troubles.

A BBC Spotlight crew also confronted one of the living suspects as part of their investigation who denied any involvement in the triple murder.

There have been calls for a fresh inquest and a new investigation but police have always said that the clearest evidence has always been against O'Kane, who is now dead.

Spotlight, The Killings of the Three Scottish Soldiers is available on the BBC iPlayer.

The memorial to three murdered Scottish soldiers, located at Ligoniel on the outskirts of north Belfast.

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