“He been accused of helping to develop a controversial British army policy which included the use of “counter-gangs”, subversion, psychological torture operations and the creation of covert British army units such as the controversial Military Reaction Force (MRF).
THE family of a West Belfast man murdered by a notorious UDA gang more than 40 years ago is set to sue the British army and one of the most senior officers to serve in the North of Ireland during the Troubles. Patrick Heenan was was murdered after he lay on top of a grenade thrown into his work van as he made his way to work in East Belfast in February 1973. Now his wife Mary (88) is preparing to take legal action against the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and General Frank Kitson, pictured above, claiming her husband was murdered because of negligence and misfeasance in office. Members of the Heenan family will travel with Relatives for Justice to London this week to deliver the writ. General Kitson (pictured above), is accused of being responsible for British army policy that resulted in the infiltration of loyalist gangs in the 1970s. He has been named as a co-defendant in the legal action on grounds that he and others used agents knowing or “being reckless” as to whether they would take part in criminal actions. Speaking for the first time last night, Mrs Heenan described her husband as a “quiet man” with no involvement in politics. The mother-of-five said she has struggled to come to terms with the 50-year-old’s murder for four decades. “This big shutter came down and I could not even visualise his face,” she said. “It was a total shock and I could not cry for years. You never really come to terms with it.” It is believed to be the first time an individual British army officer has been pursured through the courts over their actions in the Troubles. General Kitson, who is now in his late 80s, rose to become Commander-in-Chief UK Land Forces from 1982 to 1985. He was in charge of military operations in the North of Ireland during the early 1970s. He has been accused of helping to devolop a controversial British army policy which included the use of “counter-gangs”, subversion, psychological tourture and the creation of covert army units such as the controversil Military Reaction Force (MRF). Former British soldier Albert ‘Ginger’ Baker received a life sentence for killing Mr Heenan and three other men and claimed to have links to military intelligence. Baker,
the first loyalist supergrass, was a member of the infamous UDA ‘G4 unit’ which carried out a series of brutal ‘romper room’ murders in Belfast in the early 1970s. Mr Heenan’s son Eugene said his family beleives responsibility for the murder rests with the British government. “They (the government) walked away and presented themselves as an arbiter and peace keeper when in fact they were driving policy. “Patrick Heenan might not have been killed only for the British government.” Clara Reilly of Relatives for Justice said policy makers should not “be allowed to simply sail into the sunset after having played havoc with countless lives”. Solicitor Kevin Winters said the “core value” of the legal action “is to obtain truth and accountability… as to the the role of the British army and Frank Kitson in the counter-insurgency operation in the North”.
With many thanks to: Connla Young, The Irish News, for the orgional story.