Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 28 May 2016


Robert Simpson doctor and MP

DR Robert Simpson, former Unionist MP for Mid- Antrim, has died. He was

Published 09/04/1997



Dr Simpson was an active travel and health writer for the Belfast Telegraph, often writing under the pseudonym of Doctor Barfoot.

He also had syndicated articles published by more than 100 newspapers throughout the world.

A former Stormont Minister of Community Relations in the Chichester-Clark government, he died in his Ballymena home yesterday morning.

He was educated at Ballymena Academy and obtained his medical degree from Queen's University in 1946.

Dr Simpson was elected Stormont MP for Antrim in 1952 and later became Ulster's first Minister for Community Relations, which caused his resignation as a member of the Masonic and Orange Orders.

On his appointment he said: 'People must ultimately see that somehow the two communities are going to have to live together side by side if only because they have nowhere else to go.'He served as MP until 1972, culminating in a bitter split with Prime Minister Brian Faulkner.

Dr Simpson was a keen gardener, arts sponsor a founder of Ballymena Round Table.

He is survived by his wife Dorothy and children Dermott, Guy and Cherith.

Jean Withers, IRA victim's widowTHE widow of the IRA's last murder victim before its 1994 ceasefire has died.

Jean Withers (47) died peacefully in her sleep at Beaconfield Nursing Home early yesterday after a long battle with cancer.

Her husband, Trelford Withers (46), a part-time member of the Royal Irish Regiment, was gunned down as he worked in the family's butcher shop in Crossgar in August 1994.

He was shot by a lone gunman who asked for him by name as he worked in the family shop _ no-one has ever been charged with the murder.

The couple leave five children _ Joyce, Hazel, Clare, Mark and Dawn.

Mrs Withers won widespread admiration after her husband's murder as she pleaded for no retaliation.

She later won a People of the Year award in Dublin.

Her funeral will be held tomorrow in Kilmore Presbyterian Church at 1pm _ she will be buried alongside her husband.

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