Robert Weir (1928 - 1996):
Son of a farmer from near Magherafelt, County Tyrone, Bob Weir, as he was known, attended Rainey Endowed School, Magherafelt, and from there he went to the University of Dublin, where he had an outstanding career in the Faculty of Medicine. He came top of his class in all four subjects at the end of his first year, winning the Welland Prize. In his second and third years he won the Hutchinson Medal for Physiology and the Cunningham Medal for Anatomy, gaining first class marks in each subject and was awarded the prestigious Begley Studentship. He also gained first class honours in his fourth year and in his final year was placed first in Medicine, second in Surgery and third in Obstetrics and Gynaecology - the only time in his university years he failed to place in the top two in his year. He completed his Houseman's year at Sir Patrick Dun's Hospital, Dublin.
On returning to Northern Ireland he was a Registrar at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, under the internationally-renowned cardiologist Professor Frank Pantridge. Despite this training though, Weir chose to enter general practice in Newry, not joining the Department of Health and Social Services (Northern Ireland) until 1963. Here he concentrated his intellectual skills on planning acute services, undertaking major reviews of many acute specialties, and drawing up a medical advisory structure not only for policy making but also for disseminating and interpreting government policies to the profession. In 1978 he was appointed Chief Medical Officer for Northern Ireland, a post he held until retirement in 1986. All of his qualities were called into play in the establishment of the prison medical service in Northern Ireland after internment; in particular he dealt sensitively and decisively with the hunger strikes of 1980-1981, in which participants, demanding special conditions for prisoners based on a political status rejected by the Government, refused food and consequently died. His main concern was to ensure that the wishes of the dying and their relatives were met with compassion and dignity.
Weir obtained his MD from Dublin University in 1955 and his MRCPI by examination in 1965; he was elected FRCPI 1974, MFCM 1974, FFCM and FFCMI 1977, and appointed CB 1984.
|Born:||29 October 1928|
|Died:||7 January 1996|
© 2017 Ulster History Circle