Unionist Voice is currently working on a small pamphlet highlighting the murder of Robert Shields. In the interim period, as part of our ‘Forgotten Victims’ series, we have decided to highlight Robert’s murder and the positive role he played serving the community during some of the darkest days of the IRA’s terrorist campaign.
Robert was a 44-year old senior administrator in the Belfast Ambulance Service. He was married with four children. He was shot dead in his office at the Royal Victoria Hospital in September 1980 by IRA gunmen wearing hospital overalls. They had hi-jacked a car close to the hospital before driving through the gates and over to the ambulance control depot. The IRA murderers then escaped in the same car, which was later found abandoned.
Despite this cowardly murder, none of the IRA terrorists responsible for Robert’s murder have ever been brought to justice. The family of Robert Shields have had no publically funded inquiries, no films made about his murder or no ‘victims groups’ campaigning on his behalf.
Alongside his work in the Ambulance Service, in which he cared for people from all backgrounds equally and to the best of his ability, Robert was also a former RUC reservist. He was brave enough to put on a uniform in an effort to protect his community from the terrorist campaign being waged by the IRA. It was for the ‘crime’ of his public service to his community that the IRA murdered Robert Shields.
Even in death the IRA terrorists sought to deny Robert Shields’ family the peace to mourn their loved one. A number of bomb scares lead to family members missing his burial at Roselawn. The IRA, whose surrogates in Sinn Fein preach on a daily basis about ‘respect’, ‘integrity’ and most laughably of all about ‘Time for Truth’, couldn’t even have the common decency to allow Robert Shields to be buried in peace by his friends and family.
If it is ‘Time For Truth’ then when will Sinn Fein call on the IRA to tell all their know about the murder of Robert Shields and hand over the names of the IRA gunmen that shot him dead for no reason other than they saw him as a soft target. Will Sinn Fein, on behalf of the IRA, apologise to the family of Robert Shields for the bomb scares designed to disrupt his funeral?
Ivan Little, who covered the troubles for decades, wrote in 2005 about the grief of those attending Robert’s funeral. It was so intense even an experienced reporter like Mr Little had to walk away. He wrote in the Belfast Telegraph in 2005;
“For some inexplicable reason, one funeral out of all the hundreds I have attended still plays in my mind as if it were yesterday. Robert Shields, who had been in the police reserve, was shot dead by the IRA in September 1980. He died at his desk in the ambulance depot of the Royal Victoria Hospital.
“The grief as his coffin was brought from his home in the Woodvale area of Belfast was so overpowering, so intense, that I had to walk away. To cap it all, a series of IRA bomb scares held up the funeral, causing some mourners to miss the burial at Roselawn cemetery.”