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IRA Praises Killing Of British Soldier

August 15, 1988

BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) _ Supporters of the Irish Republican Army on Sunday hailed the killing of a British soldier in Belgium as a sign of the IRA’s strength.

Martin McGuinness, vice-president of the outlawed IRA’s legal political wing, Sinn Fein, told a rally in Belfast:

″It shows the ability of the IRA to bring about a final victory in Ireland. We saw the IRA battalions at work in Belgium as well as Holland and Germany. They speak for us. They speak with one voice.″

The IRA has claimed responsibility for killing Warrant Officer 1st Class Richard Michael Heakin, who was shot to death Friday night as he drove his car to the ferry at Ostend, Belgium.

In May, IRA guerrillas killed three British servicemen in West Germany and Holland.

The predominantly Roman Catholic IRA is fighting to unite Northern Ireland, a British province where Protestants outnumber Catholics 3-2, with the mainly Catholic Republic of Ireland.

McGuinness spoke at a rally marking the 17th anniversary of the introduction of the British policy of interning guerrilla suspects without trial. Britain abandoned the policy in 1975.

Paul Murray, a member of the Irish Northern Aid Committee, a U.S.-based support group for the IRA, pledged continued assistance.

He told the rally, ″As long as you campaign against the British then we in America will support you.″

In London, Armed Forces Minister Archie Hamilton said recommendations have been made on whether British servicemen should continue to use special license plates. He did not say what the recommendations were, but said they would be given urgent consideration by the Defense Ministry.

There have been demands that the special ″British Forces″ license plates for British servicemen be replaced by British plates or plates from the country where they are serving.

Heakin, based in Moenchen Bladbach, West Germany, was shot by one of two men who approached his car when it stopped at a traffic light in Ostend where he planned to take the ferry to England.

Richard Livsey, a member of Parliament representing Heakin’s constituency in Wales, said the soldier ″had no chance in his private car with British Forces number plates. The fact is that as long as these number plates remain, British servicemen will be sitting ducks to the IRA.″

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