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Minister attends Prisons Memorial Service

Justice Minister David Ford MLA today paid tribute to the memory of David Black and the 29 other Prison Service staff who lost their lives as a result of terrorism.
Friday, 9 November 2012

At this time it is important to remember the contribution that Prison Service staff have made and continue to make to the community in Northern Ireland, often against a background of them and their families living in fear and danger

Minister of Justice David Ford MLA,Northern Ireland Department of Justice

He was speaking after he laid the first wreath at the annual Northern Ireland Prison Service Memorial Service at Millisle in Co. Down.

The Minister said: “At this time it is important to remember the contribution that Prison Service staff have made and continue to make to the community in Northern Ireland, often against a background of them and their families living in fear and danger.

“Many staff and their families remain concerned about their safety and the events of last Thursday show clearly just how real the threat is. The callous murder of David Black, a man who always put others before himself as he sought to make our community a safer place for all, is a painful reminder of times which we all hoped had passed.

“His murder will achieve nothing, other than heartbreak for the Black family. David, and the other brave Prison Service staff who paid the ultimate sacrifice simply because they served the community, will never be forgotten. I am honoured to be here today to pay tribute to their memory.”

Mr Ford also praised the Central Benevolent Fund for organising today’s Memorial Service saying: “For 33 years the Fund has ensured that the memory of those staff who were murdered is kept alive, and that retired and serving staff and their families receive much needed support. I thank those who have played this role in the past and those who continue to do so.

“The events of the past week clearly demonstrate the value of this work, where Benevolent Fund staff have been a source of comfort and solace to Yvonne, Kyra, Kyle and indeed the entire Black family. It is an immensely difficult role, but a very worthwhile one and I know that these efforts are greatly appreciated.”

Before the ceremony, the Minister was invited to inspect the NIPS Band and Guard of Honour, accompanied by CBF Chairman Ian Simpson and Sue McAllister, who was attending her first Remembrance Service as Prison Service Director General.

During the inter-denominational service, conducted by Prison Service chaplains, the Justice Minister laid the first wreath at the Memorial Stone with Sue McAllister laying a wreath on behalf of the Prison Service.

Wreaths were also laid by representatives of the bereaved families, The Central Benevolent Fund, The Prison Officers’ Association, The Prison Governors’ Association, NI Public Service Alliance, The Prison Service Trust, The NIPS Sports Association, The Retired Officers’ Fellowship, The Irish Prison Service and the local branch of the Royal British Legion.

Notes to editors

1. The Northern Ireland Prison Service Central Benevolent Fund was established in 1980 and provides a range of services to support beneficiaries, which include widows, retired staff, and serving staff. The Benevolent Fund, whose patron is HRH the Princess Royal, is funded by subscriptions from both serving and retired staff.

2. The first NI Prison Service Memorial Service was held in 1980.

3. All media enquiries should be directed to NIPS Press Office on 028 9052 5354. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07699 715440 and your call will be returned.