Northern Ireland

On This Day in 1973: Soldier fired without aim and Kevin Heatley (12) died, court hears

Kevin Heatley was shot dead in Newry in 1973. A campaign in 2016 challenged support for the British army following comments made by then prime minister Theresa May
Kevin Heatley was shot dead in Newry in 1973. A campaign in 2016 challenged support for the British army following comments made by then prime minister Theresa May

October 2 1973

Private William Francis Foxford (22), of Colchester, Essex, a member of the Royal Hampshire Regiment, was charged at Newry Magistrate’s Court yesterday with the unlawful killing, on February 28, of Kevin Heatley, aged 12, Second Avenue, Derrybeg.

Mrs Margot Haughey, First Avenue, Derrybeg, described how she and her sister, Mrs Mary Mathers, had seen a military foot patrol position themselves at the shops in the estate at about 12.30am and how a fair-haired soldier without a beret had left his comrades, brushed past the women, went about eight yards and fired a shot up Main Avenue from about waist-high without taking aim.

At first, the two women had thought it was a rubber bullet and challenged the soldier on his reason for firing since there had been no trouble. But then they were told a boy had been shot, saw a pool of blood on the corner of Main Avenue, returned and accused the soldier, who made no reply.

Although convicted and sentenced to three years' imprisonment, Foxford’s conviction was quashed on appeal.

Torture Hearings to Open Today

The Irish Government’s case against the United Kingdom opens before the European Commission on Human Rights in Strasbourg today. If Ireland wins, Britain could face expulsion from the Council of Europe.

The Strasbourg proceedings were adjourned, earlier this year, at the request of the British Government and it may be three years before the case is completed. Ireland alleges that Britain has violated the articles of the European Convention of Human Rights in its administration of Northern Ireland affairs.

They say Article 1 was contravened by the Special Powers Act and Article 3 was breached by the torture, inhuman and degrading treatment meted out at Holywood Barracks, Girdwood Barracks, Ballykinlar and Magilligan camp. Articles 5 and 6, says Ireland, were violated by internment and Article 14 has been consistently disregarded, throughout the history of Northern Ireland, by the practices of discrimination on religious and political grounds.

With the current Irish government considering taking legal action against London over its Troubles Legacy Act, the administration in 1973 took a legal case to Europe for what it saw as breaches of the law by the British government in how it governed Northern Ireland.

Dr Raymond McClean was the first non-unionist mayor of Derry since 1923
Dr Raymond McClean was the first non-unionist mayor of Derry since 1923

Derry’s First Non-Unionist Mayor for 50 years

Dr Raymond McClean (SDLP) was last night invested with the mayoral chain of office at a Derry District Council meeting. He is the first non-unionist mayor of the city since 1923. Mr Jack Allen (U) was invested as deputy mayor.

(Hugh O’Doherty, whose term as mayor finished in 1923, had been the first Catholic mayor of Derry since the reign of King James II in the late seventeenth century.)