I’m in the car of sex offender and prolific pimp Marty Heaney. He doesn’t know I’m a journalist, and I don’t know all his lewd activities.
New Year’s Eve 2008. It is parked outside Dunnes Stores on Annadale Quay, off the Ormeau Road in Belfast.
The surrounding streets are dark and empty. Everyone went to restaurants and bars to celebrate the new year.
Marty is interviewing me for a “job” at his house as a cleaner. I pretend to be a single mother who is desperate for money. In real life, I have a nine-month-old daughter fast asleep at home.
Later, I try to focus on her to banish all thoughts of this vile man who was convicted of prostitution and human trafficking last week.
Marty offers me £15 to go to his house and get naked. “I’d be naked too,” he says. “I’d be with the ***** while you cleaned up.”
He describes other services I could provide for him: “If you want to do ab*** ***, I’d pay an extra tenner, so that would be £25,” he smiles.
“Sex, an extra tenner (£35). You do a little cleaning for an hour and then have a little fun at the end.’ He will pay another “ten” for intercourse without a condom. So for £45 a woman has to risk her health.
Marty has special requests: “I like water sports—it’s scripture,” he says. He pees on women, but “I especially like it when a girl pees on me.” If I agree, they will give an “extra five”.
My investigation into Heaney began when 22-year-old Romanian migrant worker Mariana Ursu told me how she posted an ad on Gumtree for a casual cleaning job. She gave her mobile number. Marty texted her asking her to clean up naked.
Mariana, who spoke little English, did not understand. Marty called her. The Irish friend picked up the phone and “told the dirty old man to go away or I’ll call the police” before hanging up.
“I don’t want this person or this job. I have a two-year-old daughter in Romania. I’m disgusted,” Marianne told me as she gave me Marty’s cell number, asking me to expose him.
Marty texts and calls me tirelessly both before and after the meeting – 24 times in one evening.
He asks me intimate details about my body.
When he wants to meet for sex one night, I tell him I don’t have a babysitter. “Bring the baby,” he says.
He promises that there are no hidden cameras in his house. Ideally, he will like two girls at once. He asks if I have a friend.
In the car, he suggests that I “come over tonight for an hour to clean up.” I refuse, they say, I need time to think.
“If you’d give me a hand here tonight,” he says, pointing to the empty parking lot across the street, “I’d give you a tenner.”
I wonder what will happen when PSNI arrives. “By the time the police car pulls up, I’ll be zipped up. It’s not like I was lying on top of you – nothing was visible.”
He seems alarmingly knowledgeable about how to avoid arrest for indecent exposure. He says he is a former taxi driver who is still involved in counterfeiting. His car does not have legal taxi license plates.
While I’m there, I get a call from a woman ordering a taxi from a bar in town. I am concerned for the safety of his female passengers.
I’ve been in the car for 20 minutes, but it feels like a lifetime. I feel dirty after breathing the same air as him.
My story was printed in the Sunday Tribune. I had no idea Heaney was a pimp, but I knew he was dangerous.
Two weeks later, the Sunday World tracked him down, ferrying visitors around Belfast on a tour bus.
The newspaper also found that he made lewd comments to female customers at the taxi company where he worked. The owner called the police to tell everything before he was fired.
These stories were published in January 2009. They should have alarmed the PSNI. Did they then give Heaney the attention he deserved?
In 2010 he wrote two schoolgirls promoting a charity car wash at Orange Hall.
He offered them money to clean his car, but then drove them to a secluded spot where he performed a sexual act in front of them. He then threw £25 at the terrified teenagers, saying “it’s easy money”.
He was placed on the sex offenders register but was not jailed despite having two previous convictions for indecent exposure.
Last Wednesday, he was convicted of abusing 12 women, although the actual number of victims is likely many times higher.
Most of the women he controlled as prostitutes were young, poor and vulnerable. Some grew up in foster care, others were drug addicts.
They were forced to have sex with him and several men for just £15 a time. He filmed them secretly.
Heaney (59) ran his group of vice presidents from June 2011 until September 2019, when he was arrested following an eight-month investigation by the PSNI.
It baffles me that someone whose proclivities were public knowledge managed to run such an enterprise for eight years.
Last week, he received a five-year sentence, half to be served in prison and half to be served on probation.
After serving time in custody, he was released from court.
The DPP is considering whether to refer the sentence to the Court of Appeal on the grounds that it may be unduly lenient.
From start to finish, Marty Heaney’s sick, sordid story shows that the system fails women.
Tories are not my cup of tea
Whoever the next prime minister is, it won’t be a white man. The Tories will either put in their third female leader or the first British Asian leader at No 10.
While this certainly signals an increase in diversity, some conservatives could still do with a lesson in equality.
A 1922 photograph of six members of the Committee, posted on Twitter, showed five white male politicians serving tea to one woman and an Asian member of parliament, Nuss Ghani.
Clearly Tory men, consciously or subconsciously, still find it too humiliating to hold a kettle.
The council lost the story about Bloody Friday
Imagine if there was no mention that it was British paratroopers who killed 13 innocent people on Bloody Sunday at an event sponsored by Derry and Strabane City Council to mark the 50th anniversary of the crime?
There would be justifiable outrage, so it’s understandable that eyebrows have been raised at Belfast City Council’s apparent decision to exclude any reference to the IRA during its Good Friday celebrations.
Building bridges and reconciliation should never mean eradicating historical facts, however inconvenient they may be.