'Hero' RUC police officer Kevin Sheehy passes away
Tributes paid to respected former Drugs Squad leader
A former top police officer who died at the weekend has been hailed a "hero" by Sir Ronnie Flanagan.
Detective Superintendent Kevin Sheehy was the first Catholic university graduate to join the RUC. He passed away at the weekend after bravely fighting a long illness.
Sir Ronnie said last night: "He was an outstanding police officer who was well ahead of his time.
"Kevin made a massive contribution throughout his years in the police service. It is with the greatest sense of regret that I've learnt of his passing."
Born in Sailortown, Belfast, Kevin Benedict Sheehy was a Catholic and that fact made him more than a prominent target for republican terrorists, in particular during his meteoric rise through police ranks.
He came from a police family - his brother Paul, who made his own enormous contribution to policing, particularly in cross-community work Londonderry, also died a few years ago.
Kevin was a man of great heart and loyalty to his friends and colleagues. He attended the then Trinity College, Dublin along with solicitor Pat Finucane. Both played on the same football team at Trinity. When Mr Finucane was assassinated by a UDA murder squad Kevin went to the family home to personally convey his condolences.
KB as he was known - they also called him The Sheik - was a combative CID detective who tackled gangsters - whether loyalist or republican - head-on.
He had many jousts with the RUC Special Branch and British undercover intelligence agencies operating in Northern Ireland. He believed that he and his career were being undermined at one stage because he was committed to exposing Housing Executive contracts being shared in protection rackets with both the UDA/UVF and the Provos and Official IRA colluding to carve up the proceeds on building sites.
In his memoir 'More Questions Than Answers' he claimed his expose sparked a witch hunt against him which led him to leave a police force he loved - a police force which, former colleagues underpinned last night, he served with supreme pride and professionalism.
At the height of his career he headed up the police Drugs Squad, going head-to head with the parasites, as he saw them, who were intent on "poisoning our young people."
He later became the human face of the police Press office based at Brooklyn headquarters.
He was a committed vegetarian and animal lover, working and fund-raising behind the scenes for animal rights and sanctuaries. Indeed the story is now legend how, on one occasion when he found out that a "field sports" party was going out to hunt he got a shotgun himself - and went out firing first to scare the birds away.
In his time he ruffled more than a few feathers both inside and outside the job. But he was loved and respected by those who worked with him and was regarded as a man of great integrity. And the bravest of the brave.