Service of thanksgiving to be held for esteemed Co Antrim surgeon and former member of Republic's Seanad

A service of thanksgiving for Dr John Robb's life will be held on Saturday in Portrush
A service of thanksgiving for Dr John Robb's life will be held on Saturday in Portrush

A SERVICE of thanksgiving is to be held tomorrow for a former surgeon turned Senator who died on Wednesday.

Dr John Robb, who was in his mid-80s, died on Wednesday at a care home in Portstewart, Co Derry.

Raised in Ballymoney, Co Antrim, Dr Robb was educated in Holywood , Co Down, and later in Edinburgh.

He worked as a surgeon at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast throughout some of the worst years of the Troubles, an experience which shaped his political outlook.

He went on to found the New Ireland Group, which aims to achieve a "New Vision of Ireland through confidence building, consensus and peace".

He served three consecutive terms as a member of the Republic's Seanad from 1982 to 1989, having initially been appointed by taoiseach Charlie Haughey.

One of the few northern Protestants to ever sit in the Seanad, Dr Robb went on to wear a poppy in the chamber.

He also served on the Senate of Queen's University Belfast for several years.

President Michael D Higgins described Dr Robb as a "voice for peace and reconciliation" who was an "all-islander in the best sense".

SDLP South Belfast MLA Claire Hanna said Dr Robb was an "outstanding representative of the liberal Presbyterian tradition" in the north who "in middle age taught himself to speak, read and-unusually-write Irish to a very high standard."

Dr Robb is survived by his wife Sylvia, four children and six grandchildren.

A service of thanksgiving will be held at Ballywillan Presbyterian Church in Portrush, Co Antrim tomorrow at 3pm.