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Black tribute at Prison Memorial Service

Justice Minister David Ford lays a wreath at the prison service memorial.

Tributes have been paid to murdered prison officer David Black at the Northern Ireland Prison Service Memorial Service.

Friday, 09 November 2012
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Mr Black, a 52-year-old father of two, was shot dead on the M1 motorway as he drove to work at Maghaberry Prison on Thursday last week.

He became the 30th prison officer to lose his life as a result of terrorism in NI.

Justice Minister David Ford laid the first wreath at the annual commemoration at Millisle in Co Down on Friday.

He said: "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.

David Ford

"Many staff and their families remain concerned about their safety and the events of last Thursday show clearly just how real the threat is.

"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."

Four men have been arrested and released by the PSNI in connection with the fatal gun attack on Mr Black in Co Armagh.

Police returned to the scene of the crime on Thursday and erected mobile campaign posters in a bid to jog motorists' memories and gain more information.

Assistant Chief Constable Drew Harris said: "The investigation into David Black's murder is substantial and it is complex.

"We are working closely with colleagues in a number of partner agencies, most notably An Garda Síochána, to follow various lines of enquiry."

The inter-denominational service in Millisle was organised by the Central Benevolent Fund.

Alliance minister Mr Ford continued: "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.

"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."