40th anniversary of killing of IRA Vol. Dennis Heaney to be marked

Colour party following the cortege at the funeral of Dennis Heaney in June 1978.
Colour party following the cortege at the funeral of Dennis Heaney in June 1978.

Commemorations will be held in Derry this weekend to mark the 40th anniversary of the killing of IRA Volunteer Dennis Heaney by undercover British army personnel.

The 21-years-old Derry man was shot dead by plain clothes army personnel at the junction of Harvey Street and Chamberlain Street in the Bogside area on June 10, 1978.

Dennis Heaney who was shot dead  on June 10, 1978, and (right) the Republic Monument in Shantallow.

Dennis Heaney who was shot dead on June 10, 1978, and (right) the Republic Monument in Shantallow.

To mark his anniversary this Sunday a commemoration will take place at mid-day at the Republican Monument in Shantallow, followed by other commemorations organised by the Heaney family in the afternoon.

Sinn Fein Councillor Sandra Duffy said: “These commemorations are very important.

“We will be gathering to remember with dignity and pride the memory of Dennis and stand in solidarity with his family and friends. The commemoration will take place at 12 noon this Sunday, June 10, at the Shantallow Republican Monument.

“The Heaney family will also be hosting a number of events as follows: at 2.15 pm at Harvey Street there will be one minute’s silence and at 3.00 pm at the Republican Monument in the City Cemetery there will be a short Service.

Dennis Heaney pictured in 1974, four years before he was killed.

Dennis Heaney pictured in 1974, four years before he was killed.

“We would encourage everyone to attend all events.”

The killing of Dennis sparked calls from the community for the removal of army undercover squads from the streets of Derry.

The ‘Derry Journal’ of Tuesday, June 13, 1978 - published three days after Dennis Heaney’s death - reported how riots had erupted in the city centre following the shooting of the local man. Hundreds of shoppers who were in the nearby Waterloo Place and Waterloo Street that Saturday heard the shots being fired at around 2.45 p.m.

The paper stated that Dennis, a fitter by trade from Greenhaw Road, was accused by the British Army of trying to hijack a car carrying plain clothes soldiers - a claim refuted by local sources including several eyewitnesses at the time.

The Derry Brigade of the Provisional IRA at the time said that Dennis was “cold-bloodedly shot down.”

The IRA statement added that Dennis had been badly ill-treated at Strand Road Interrogation Centre a few weeks prior to his killing and was told by Special Branch officers he would be assassinated.

The Creggan Community Association condemned “the cold-blooded murder of yet another young Derryman at the hands of the so-called keepers of law and order.”

The Bogside Community Association, meanwhile, said: “The security forces statement that Dennis Heaney tried to hijack a car is a blatant lie. We warned everyone in our statement to the ‘Derry Journal’ on December 16, 1977, that ‘such covert operations are unadulterated madness and are only giving those involved in them a license to kill.’

“Unfortunately, once again, our claims have been proved correct.”