Private Robert Stott, the 22-year-old member of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) who was murdered almost on the doorstep of his home in the Fountain estate in Londonderry was buried with full military honours on Friday afternoon following a service in First Derry Presbyterian Church in which the Moderator of the General Assembly in Ireland, Rt. Rev. Dr Temple Lundie, took part.
Mr Stott, was shot in the back and head as he was walking to his home in the new estate, on the former gaol site, off Bishop Street, from his work as a shirt cutter in a factory about 300 yards away.
Mr Stott, who was single, was a son of Mr Myles Stott, a well-known and respected member of the community, who is Superintendent of the Guildhall and at present is on duty at the temporary offices of the City Council.
Tragic Loss - Mayor
A shock of revulsion at the brutal murder swept through the city and at the meeting of the City Council two hours later the same evening the Mayor, Alderman Ivor Canavan, said: “It seems to me that all of us must leave no stone unturned until men guilty of such acts are brought to justice.
The Mayor said the young man’s father, a Council employee, was a man loved and respected by them all.
Mr Stott had suffered a tragic loss in that his son was shot down in cold blood.
Work for naught
“I find it difficult to find words to condemn an act of this sort,” said the Mayor, who added, “The work in this Council seems for naught when such an act can be perpetrated in the streets of this city.”
The previous Mayor, Alderman J Allen, said: “This young man in his early twenties, was brutally murdered.
“The people of the area are very concerned about the matter.”
Mr Patrick Devine, SDLP, said he reechoed what had been said and added: “The tragedy of our country is that too many people are trying to solve their problem by the gun.
“If we could release ourselves from this course maybe we could go forward.”
About 100 wreaths were laid on the grave and they included one inscribed: “From the mothers of Creggan and Bogside.”
The Deputy Mayor, Alderman James Hegarty, said: “I would plead, for God’s sake, don’t let’s have another winter of this shooting.
“Here was a young man in the prime of his life cut down from his family.
“Again, I would plead for God’s sake stop this killing.”
The Council stood in silence for a minute as a mark of sympathy with Mr Stott and his family.
Statements condemning the murder were issued by the Bishops, Rt. Rev. Dr Robert Eames, and Most Rev. Dr Edward Daly.
Dr Eames who visited Fountain Street estate appealed for restraint.
Dr Daly said like every reasonable-minded citizen he must express his horror and revulsion at this callous murder.
The young man’s father was known and respected throughout the community, and they offered their sincere sympathy to him and the other members of the family circle.
“Murder cannot be justified by spurious excuses and intimidation or harassment,” he said.
“Let me say clearly that no excuse justifies murder, which is the most serious offence against God or man,” said the Bishop, who added: “The people who seem bent on creating sectarian conflict in Derry must be isolated and rejected by the whole community.”
The two SDLP Convention members, Mr John Hume and Mr Michael Canavan, said: “We condemn this callous cold-blooded murder of Robert Stott, son of a well-known and respected local family.”
Their statement added: “It can only deepen the divisions and postpone peace.”
Mr William Ross, MP for Londonderry, said he was horrified at the brutal murder of this young friend and colleague.
Nothing can excuse the perpetrators of this terrible crime.
1,000 walked in the cortege
About 1,000 people had walked in the cortege from the deceased man’s home in the new Fountain estate to First Derry Church.
They included people of all denominations, amongst them were the Mayor, Alderman Ivor Canavan, and members of the City Council; and representatives of the many other public bodies.
The Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Mr Meryln Rees, was represented.
Marching at the head of the cortege, from Carlisle Square to Glendermott New Cemetery, was a detachment of the UDR who also supplied the pall bearers and a bearing party for the Union Jack-draped coffin.
The late Mr Stott had been associated with the Ulster young Unionist Movement, which was represented.
The Official Unionist organisation was represented by many officers and members, including Mr William Ross, MP.
Craven attacks on unarmed men and their families
The service in First Derry Presbyterian Church was conducted by the Minister of the church, Rev. James Young, who in tribute to the UDR said: “The saddest part of the 52 members of the Regiment, who had been killed is the number who died not in uniform, not on active service, but at their work, in their homes and in their cars in craven attacks on unarmed men and their undefended families.”
Robbie Stott, he continued, was active in his work, interested in democratic methods of ruling his country, surrounded by many friends, full of happy humour and concerned for the good of the country and the city he loved.
He was willing to add the discipline of service in the UDR to his daily work if it could bring peace and democracy to our Province.
“This murder might remind us how good is the cause people serve - the wish for peace. industry and democracy.
“On the other hand there is destruction, murder, intimidation and the law of the jungle,” Mr Young continued.
“The heads of the churches, members of the City Council and members of his family have appealed for no reaction of violence to his death; a backlash of violence would be contrary to his lifestyle for he worked through a recognised political party and a non-sectarian citizen army,” said Mr Young.
The Moderator of Derry Presbytery, Phillip Breakey, also took part in the service.
Reproduced from the Londonderry Sentinel first print edition after the murder on December 3, 1975