04 December 2005

Sunday Life

By Stephen Breen
04 December 2005

THE heartbroken family of an innocent loyalist feud victim have been backed in their campaign for justice - by the US army.

Sunday Life can reveal an American soldier - currently serving with the Marine Corps in Iraq - has written to two leading US senators in a bid to highlight the killing of Craig McCausland.

Sergeant Devin Leonard, from New Mexico, told relatives of the 20-year-old murder victim he has raised the case with leading Republican senator Peter Domenici, and Democrat senator Jeff Bingaman.

The two politicians, who are close friends of US congressmen Ted Kennedy, John Kerry and John McCain, are former members of the Irish American 'Ad Hoc' committee.

Although Craig's relatives have also written to around 20 congressmen in Washington, they believe a letter from a serving US marine in Iraq will can only help their campaign.

At present, e-mails sent to senators from soldiers in the war-ravaged region are usually given priority over other requests.

Said Sgt Leonard: "As an Irish American from New Mexico, I have had an interest in Northern Ireland for several years now.

"But after reading about the horrible death of Craig on the internet, I wish to offer my deepest condolences to Craig's family.

"That's why I have asked my state senators to look into this matter, and to use the influence of Irish America to push for an in-depth investigation into this matter, to help bring the cowardly perpetrators of this crime to justice.

"I have also asked that they contact Tony Blair and Peter Hain and ask them to meet with Craig's family at once.

"My prayers are with Craig's family, and hopefully Irish-America can help his family find justice."

Craig's cousin, Nichola McIlvenny, welcomed the support shown from the US marine.

Added Nichola: "I would like to thank this marine from the bottom of my heart for the help and support he has shown us.

"It is great to hear that our campaign is even being heard about in Iraq as we never thought it would leave our island.

"It is a sad time when we have to look to other nations to get justice for our loved ones who have been murdered in cold blood.

"I hope with our efforts and support from people like this man we will get the justice we deserve but have to fight for."

sbreen@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

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