Justice pledge for shot prison officer

Published Friday, 02 November 2012
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The government remains vigilant against the threat of terrorism and will support the PSNI's pursuit of those responsible for the murder of prison officer David Black, the NI Secretary of State Theresa Villiers has said.

Justice pledge for shot prison officer
Theresa Villiers was speaking the House of Commons on the murder. (© UTV)

Speaking in the House of Commons on Friday, Mrs Villiers paid tribute to the murdered Cookstown man and welcomed the news that two arrests have been made on Friday.

Mr Black, 52, was ambushed while on his way to work at Maghaberry on Thursday morning, when suspected dissident republican gunmen opened fire on his car on the M1 motorway near Lurgan.

"His dedication to duty and public service played a vital part to keep people in Northern Ireland safe from harm," Mrs Villiers said.

"Our profound sympathies must go to all of his family and friends at this very difficult time, and to the prison service members who have lost such a valued friend."

She reiterated the First and deputy First Minister's words, that the attack was an "attack on all of us".

"From my discussions yesterday in Belfast with the Chief Constable, I know that he and his officers will not rest until the perpetrators are brought to justice," she added.

"This attack has demonstrated the gravity of the threat that dissident terrorist groups continue to pose. This is reflected in the threat level classification in Northern Ireland which remains at severe, meaning an attack is highly likely.

The numbers involved in terrorism activities are small but these groupings have the capability and they have lethal intent.

Theresa Villiers, NI Secretary of State

"They can still ruin lives despite their lack of support within the community, so we remain vigilant," she added.

The Secretary of State said that cooperation between PSNI and Garda Síochána has "never been better" and that this was vital to protect the public and pursue terrorists.

The Secretary of State said the government would do whatever they could to help the PSNI in the case.

"Our overriding objective is to keep the people of Northern Ireland safe and secure," she said.

The Prime Minister made countering Northern Ireland terrorism a top tier priority in the 2010 National Security Strategy, and Mrs Villiers said an additional £200m had been made available over four years.

Security measures on their own will not bring an end to this threat, defeating terrorists also requires the united determination of the people of Northern Ireland and their response has been clear, united and resolute.

Theresa Villiers

North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds asked for assurance that the government will provide appropriate resources for the PSNI investigation and protection for security forces in Northern Ireland.

"The government will continue to bear down hard on terrorism, it continues to be our highest priority to protect our citizens, and we will continue to devote the appropriate resources to enable the police service of Northern Ireland and its partners to continue their excellent work in protecting people in Northern Ireland," she responded.

She also said terrorism threat levels are constantly reviewed by the government.

Brian Rae, chair of the NI Policing Board, has called on the public to show their support the PSNI investigation into the murder.

He said:"What I would call for today is for the community to support the police in any way they can, that they will bring evidence, albeit small shreds of evidence and that they will lend their support fully and wholeheartedly."

© UTV News
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