Born in staunchly loyalist east
Originally working as a carpenter, he emigrated to
On returning to Belfast some years later he became involved in the northern Ireland civil rights struggle, joined NICRA's Belfast executive and served as the organisation's public relations office – a position he held at the time of the 1972 Bloody Sunday civil rights march and massacre in 1972.
Having already provided oral testimony, surviving members of NICRA's executive had been meeting regularly over the last few years and had only recently completed their written submission to the Saville enquiry into the Bloody Sunday events.
As a republican and a socialist from a working-class Protestant area of Belfast, where hostility to the 'fur-coat' unionism runs deep, Heatley made an important contribution to debates about the civil rights strategy by bringing his insights and experience into the discussions of those from a very different background, not least of all, nationalists and republicans in west Belfast.
Although he contributed many articles to the Irish Democrat over the years, it wasn't until 1996 that he agreed to become the paper's 'official' six-county correspondent of the Irish Democrat.
He died in