IRA victim’s son asks Sinn Fein MP: Why won’t you condemn my dad’s murder?

Samuel Heenan holds the Historical Enquiries Team summary report into his father's murder, outside the family homestead near Castlewellan
Samuel Heenan holds the Historical Enquiries Team summary report into his father's murder, outside the family homestead near Castlewellan
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The son of a Protestant man murdered by the IRA in south Down has marked the 34th anniversary of his death by asking the area’s MP for his views on the killing.

As a child sleeping in his bed, Sammy Heenan heard the commotion as his father, William, was being shot by the IRA on May 3, 1985 near Castlewellan.

His mother having died three years earlier, aged 12 he was left an orphan.

“I have challenged Chris Hazzard repeatedly to condemn my father’s murder and he refuses to do so,” Mr Heenan said.

“He just goes to ground, and it’s very apparent he’s not interested or finds the questions posed difficult to answer.

“I find it all quite two-faced and hypocritical, that republicans demand truth and transparency from the security forces while ignoring their own depravity in the murders of around 70 people across south Down by the Provisional IRA.”

William Heenan was a 51-year-old digger driver who lived with his family in the Leitrim area. The IRA later falsely claimed he was serving member of the security forces.

His only son said the ongoing “historical revisionism” taking place is designed to “manipulate future generations to believe that there was equal culpability by all sides” during the Troubles.

“There were around 70 PIRA murders in south Down ... and the void left in so many homes and pain encountered is still deeply felt,” Mr Heenan said.

“They are promoting John Rice, the Slieve Croob councillor, who’s very proud of the fact he was a so-called ‘republican POW’.

“So you have Chris Hazzard championing the cause of victims on his own side, but he lacks the manners to condemn murders such as my father’s on the other. For me, all murder is wrong and no terrorist has the right to take anyone’s life.

“Usually they come out with a line about people who were murdered by republicans as having been ‘part of the war’ and nonsense like that, but my father was a Protestant man who had no connection with the security forces, so it seems they don’t know how to handle that uncomfortable truth, which evidently exposes the raw underlying sectarian motives of their depraved campaign.

“I could draw comparisons between the way my father was shot, going to his work, and how other people, like those in Loughinisland, were shot standing having a drink in a pub. So where is the moral consistency in condemning one and not the other?”

Mr Heenan added: “I want Chris Hazzard to tell me what the difference is in someone walking into a pub and shooting people, and walking up behind my father, forcing him to his knees and shooting him twice in the top of the head, simply because he was a Protestant?

“How can you condemn one and not the other and then support individuals who have expressed no remorse or restitution for their terrorist past?”

In a statement Sinn Fein said: “The legacy of the conflict is still felt right across our society. Hurt was caused by all sides and many families are still grieving the loss of their loved ones.

“All victims of the conflict and their families are entitled to access to the truth.”