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Infamous neo-Nazi skinhead band member dies of 'Covid complications' in Co Antrim hospital

One of Screwdriver's biggest so-called hits was called 'Smash the IRA'

Mervyn Shields

Steven Moore

One of Ulster's most infamous far-right activists has been laid to rest after passing away on New Year's Day with what was reported as "Covid complications."

'Big Merv' Shields was a leading member of the notorious white power Nazi band Screwdriver, where he played the bass guitar for several years on at least three albums.

He played at many White Power concerts and was instrumental in the notorious Blood and Honour neo-Nazi music network.

The music was loud and racist and promoted a whites-only agenda as well as being staunchly loyalist - one of their biggest 'hits' was called Smash The IRA.

But it was a silent ending for 'Big Merv' as the guitarist and drummer was left to play one last 'solo' at Roselawn Crematorium in east Belfast where he was cremated without anyone present on Wednesday.

The father of two, originally from Bushmills, Co Antrim, had been mourned properly at a service at a funeral home in Coleraine where only immediate family were asked to attend due to Covid restrictions.

Mervin Shields after his funeral in Coleraine. Pic Pacemaker

And the Roselawn service was designated 'no-attendees', which meant he made his final journey alone.

Well known in white power circles across the UK, he joined the band in England and lived there for years. Far-right sympathisers would have been expected to attend his funeral in normal circumstances.

Though his politics were anything but pleasant, he had returned to live in Northern Ireland several years ago and those who knew him described him as a "gentleman".

It's understood Shields, who was in his late 50s, had suffered underlying health problems with his heart and on some far-right websites it was reported he had died in hospital from "Covid complications".

Despite being taken into Roselawn crematorium completely alone, 'Big Merv' remained a much-loved family man and dozens of people expressed their condolences to his two sons, two sisters but especially to his mum who survives him.

But Screwdriver had a notorious reputation as a far-right band and 'led' the way with songs demanding white power rule.

During a period of the 1980s Screwdriver had a massive following and skinheads would regularly attend gigs displaying Nazi Swastikas and giving right arm salutes.

The band was formed by notorious racist Ian Stuart Donaldson in Lancashire in 1976 and had several reincarnations until Donaldson was killed in a car crash in 1993.

Such was their following, many within far-right circles circulated conspiracy theories that Donaldson may have been taken out by the 'establishment' who feared his growing influence and potential to cause major racial unrest.

'Big Merv' was mourned by his partner who posted pictures of the couple on Facebook.

One picture taken recently shows him sporting a T-shirt with the slogan 'Kill a Commie for Mommy', showing he continued to share his anti-left views.

Along with controversial band leader Donaldson, Shields played gigs as part of the infamous Rock Against Communism movement set-up to oppose the Rock Against Racism movement.

Among those paying tribute to Shields was London UDA leader Frank Portinari.

"Gutted to hear that former Skrewdriver guitarist Big Merv Shields has passed away. Had many a good session with him in the Royal Bar, Sandy Row, Belfast," he wrote.

The Loyalist Defence League also paid their respects, tweeting: "Today there's also the very sad news that a true gentleman and loyal brethren Mervyn Shields has sadly died, we send his family our deepest condolences and sympathies at this sad time."

Shields played on three albums, White Rider, After the Fire and Warlord.

He moved to London in 1983 and joined Skrewdriver three years later but also went on to play with other groups including The Suspects and Catch-22.

He always retained his political views and regularly attended the annual Ian Stuart Memorial Blood and Honour rallies and still firmly believed in a whites-only country up until his death.

Messages of condolences from neo-Nazis throughout Europe flooded social media after news of his death broke, such was his standing in those circles.

steven.moore@sundayworld.com


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