Prison officer 'committed to peace'

Published Tuesday, 06 November 2012
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David Black, the prison officer who was murdered as he travelled to work last week, has been described as "a man committed to peace" at his funeral service.

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The married father of two was shot when he was ambushed while driving on the M1 motorway on Thursday. Mr Black worked at Maghaberry prison, where republican inmates have been holding protests. He is the first NI prison officer to be murdered by paramilitaries in almost 20 years.

Shops closed and hundreds of people lined the streets as Cookstown came to a standstill on Tuesday, with former colleagues from the prison service and friends from the Orange Order among those who gathered to pay their respects at Mr Black's funeral.

Reverend Tom Greer of Molesworth Presbyterian Church, where Mr Black attended regularly, said he was horrified at the brutality of his murder.

"It is so terrible that evil men with such hatred in their hearts should rob us of a great man like David with love and kindness in his heart," he said.

David Black was a man of honour and principle, a man of kindness and generosity, a man committed to peace and prosperity in Northern Ireland - all those things completely the opposite of the murderous thugs and bloodthirsty criminals who took David’s life.

Rev Greer

Rev Greer said former prisoners had spoken of the impact that Mr Black had on their life.

"David viewed his work as something that was meant to improve society. He wanted those who came into prison to leave as changed men."

A private service was held at Mr Black's home, before the family made their way to the church, where his children Kyle and Kyra paid personal tribute to their 52-year-old father.

His teenage daughter read out a poem about her father describing his "big smile and chuckle" which brightened up her day.

The emotional tribute continued: "Our love will be everlasting, that will never ever change.

"But the one thing I want you to know is that I'm so proud of you. You're not just my daddy, but forever my special hero."

Kyle said: "They can take daddy from us. They can deprive Kyra and me of a devoted father and mummy of a loving husband, but they can never take away the love that we have in our hearts and the memories that we will all cherish for the rest of our lives.

"Daddy may not be here in person but he will be here with us all in spirit."

He continued: "Although daddy was small in stature he had had a large impact on the lives of everybody that knew him and he's left a huge legacy - one that my mummy, Kyra and myself will be so, so proud to carry on."

The family were joined at the church by politicians including First Minister Peter Robinson, Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt and SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness offered to go to the funeral, but it is believed the Black family asked him not to attend.

A number of other politicians were also at the funeral, as well as the PSNI Chief Constable and the Director General of the Northern Ireland Prison Service and his southern counterpart.

Rev Greer also spoke of the "great dignity" shown by Mr Black's family in the wake of his murder.

"They have determined not to seek revenge or to encourage it in anyone else. They long to see justice done but will not meet other people's bitterness and hatred with any of their own. They set an example to us all," he said.

Presbyterian moderator Dr Roy Patton joined in the condemnation of those who carried out the murder.

"We are together in this, totally united as churches, politicians, civic society, ordinary men and women who feel for you today in your unspeakable loss, and who in the strongest possible terms are outraged by such an evil deed.

"This attack on a prison officer was an attack on this whole community," he added.

Two men questioned by the PSNI about the murder have both been released unconditionally, while a 29-year-old man detained in Co Leitrim was released by Gardaí on Tuesday.

© UTV News
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40 Comments
Gareth in Antrim wrote (527 days ago):
@ Jason in London - I don't know what you stand for or what age you are or what your educational qualifications are but I'll tell you this - go and have a look at English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh history - go back as far as you want and then, when you've got a complete grasp of it, come back here and comment again. You need to know this history, the politics behind it and everything else that goes with it. And while you're at it, have a look at WW1 and WW2 and perhaps you will be able to comment on the sacrifice so many made in those wars (and other wars) who came from Northern Ireland and southern Ireland - the sacrifice they made allows you, today, to make irresponsible comments like you just have.
Jason in London wrote (527 days ago):
Astounded in NI, that is not our problem here in London. You do not pay enough taxes to support yourself, the people of London/England pay to keep you going. I look forward to the day you exit or for a United Ireland. Support yourselves. ohh i forgot you can't..
Mark in Manchester wrote (527 days ago):
So much for Peace.... It's all a bit one sided.
Thomas in Portadown wrote (528 days ago):
@C in Belfast, I am not here to start an argument or anything of that nature. However people have every right to condemn republicans on the killing of previous prison officers throughout the troubles. The facts speak for itself, as 28 officers were murdered in cold blood by the IRA and INLA. Except for the 1993 UVF killing of James Peacock which again is widely condemned and frowned upon within the unionist community. Murder was wrong then and it is wrong now.
Karen in Belfast wrote (528 days ago):
@ Mark in Manchester. Officer Black's family decided what to put on his coffin as all bereaved families do. Accept their decision and stop making yourself look pathetic by being so petty.
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