McGuinness won't attend Black funeral

Published Monday, 05 November 2012
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UTV understands the family of David Black have asked deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness not to attend the funeral of the murdered prison officer.

McGuinness won't attend Black funeral
Martin McGuinness (© UTV)

Mr Black, a married father-of-two, was fatally shot on the M1 on Thursday morning, as he drove to work at Maghaberry Prison.

On Tuesday a funeral service will be held at Molesworth Presbyterian Church in his hometown of Cookstown, where hundreds are expected to pay their respects.

First Minister Peter Robinson and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness both proposed to go to the service, but it is understood the Black family declined Mr McGuinness's offer.

UTV understands there will be no Sinn Féin representation at the service.

It comes after a minute's silence was held in the Stormont Assembly on Monday.

An urgent motion was proposed by the DUP leader, who told MLAs that the utmost security must be given to prison officers to try and prevent a repeat of Mr Black's murder.

Mr Robinson said the attack serves as a "timely reminder" that the terrorist threat still exists in Northern Ireland.

"The events of this last week, and in particular the murder of David Black, have been a timely reminder to all of us of the terrorist threat that still exists," he said.

"While as a society we've moved a very long way from the dark days of the Troubles, we've had a chilling reminder that we cannot afford to be complacent about the threat and ideology of terrorists.

"The fact that the acts of this nature are now so rare and the condemnation is so universal is a mark of how far we've come as a society," he added.

This morning this Assembly united, we galvanised in opposition to these terrorist acts, in support of those who have been so tragically touched by terrorism.

Peter Robinson

Justice Minister David Ford also briefed MLAs on the personal security of members of the Prison Service.

Mr Ford said the safety of Prison Service staff "is of high priority and is of course kept under constant review".

"It was a crime of the worst sort, the murder of an innocent man, cold-blooded, utterly ruthless, a defenceless man going to his work, a man who served this community well and with dedication and courage as a prison officer," he said.

"Following David Black's death, the Prison Service management responded immediately to remind staff of the need for vigilance and reissued guidance on personal security," explained the Alliance minister.

"The Prison Service also triggered and urgent review of security and a director General has today issued further advice to staff on the assessed threat level and reminding staff of the range of personal security measures which are already available to them," he added.

Paul Givan, the DUP chair of the Justice Committee, said the security of prison officers has been "a matter of concern that has been raised repeatedly before the tragic murder of David Black that officers felt their security concerns were not being treated seriously".

Mr Ford said he will meet with PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott on Tuesday.

"I've also had discussions with the Justice Minister in Dublin who has assured me that the necessary support which the Garda Siochana may provide will also be provided and there will be other meetings, so the matter is being treated extremely seriously," he said.

Representatives from Sinn Féin, the UUP and the SDLP also united to condemn the killing.

Mr Black, 52, is the first prison officer to die at the hands of paramilitaries since 1993.

Trade Unions will hold a silent vigil in his memory at Belfast City Hall on Tuesday. A piper will play at 1pm for the murdered prison officer.

Irish Congress of Trade Unions spokesman Peter Bunting said: "This vigil is an opportunity for all working people and their families to express their sorrow and disgust at this heinous attack on a public servant, and our collective solidarity with his family and colleagues.

"The strength of such a silent protest will be in the dignity of its participants and the simplicity of our message.

All prison visits to Maghaberry have been cancelled on Tuesday. A Prison Service spokesman said any booked visits will be rearranged.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
28 Comments
Truthforall in Tyrone wrote (625 days ago):
I know the family in question and i thought i would answer the question asked below with regards to Martin mcguiness and the funeral. It was stated that he was not welcome 'at the family home' in light of what had happened. It was NEVER stated that he or any other representative was unwelcome at the public funeral itself. This may have been a mis communication but it was unfortunate. Many messages of condolence have been recieved from prisoners including republican, a reef was made from the prison garden and sent to the family as a mark of respect and politicians such as delores kelly (sdlp), peter robinson and danny kennedy amongst others came to the family home to pay their respects to an honourable man and unite in condemnation of an atrocious act. It is important to understand there are many people would not feel comfortable with a former commander of a terrorist organisation in their family home (regardless of political/religious background/ side)at any time never mind a wake as a result of a brutal murder at hands of possibly the same people mr mcguinness was in terrorism with. Its a great positive that he was one of the first to show solidarity with peter robinson in condemnation and i trust like the 99% of the rest of the country that it was genuine. RIP. David, a true gentleman that will be greatly missed.
Karen in Ballymena wrote (628 days ago):
For all those who wish to sing the praises of Martin McGuinness, please explain exactly how he meant 'ALBEIT A PRISON OFFICER' in a decent way. That statement just confirms that McGuinness thinks a prison officer has less of a right to life than persons in other professions. So all those who think the Black Family were wrong. I think they were 100% right, becuase McGuinness clearly had no respect for them or the late Mr Black.
Truth in Work wrote (628 days ago):
I think it would be responsible for all sections of the media to explain the reason McGuiness and Sinn Fein were asked not to come to the funeral, rather than have people question the decision without full knowledge. McGuiness issued a speech after stating that "“The people who carried out the attack proved that they could kill a human being, albeit a human being who happened to be a prison officer." Is David Blacks murder somehow acceptable to McGuiness and Sinn Fein because he was a prison officer? This is why he and his party were asked not to come to the funeral. Local, agenda based, media reporters like to keep the true details hidden.
sebastian in malone rd belfast wrote (628 days ago):
@norman d.....ur constant bufoo remarks speak a thousand words of how you are still stuck in the past and more importantly they speak volumes of your upbringing
angelina in Co.Antrim wrote (628 days ago):
Don't be so quick to judge this family. Remember they have just lost a loved one who was doing his job-despite the peace process. SAM-All grieving families have the right to decide who attends a funeral. It won't change difference to peace. If you lived here you would know it is a fragile peace as is shown. Likewise Mark-We don't know their reasons,but they are entitled. This man worked with/was under threat and killed by republican prisoners-people who support Sinn Fein. So you can't say the family aren't accepting peace. if they had experienced he'd still be alive.
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BRIAN ROWAN
The pictures from Stormont this week showed us how politics here still walks in and out of step.
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