The Northern Ireland Prison Service has been given the Freedom of North Down for “the immense contribution and sacrifice given by its members”.
At a special ceremony in Bangor last weekend the Mayor of North Down, Councillor Stephen Farry, paid tribute to the Northern Ireland Prison Service for its “loyal service, often through difficult and dangerous times, in ensuring a safer society for everyone in Northern Ireland”.
The ceremony was attended by members of the Prison Service, past and present, representatives of the wider Prison Service family and councillors from North Down.
The Mayor presided over a special meeting at which the council's resolution to confer the Honorary Freedom of the Borough upon the Northern Ireland Prison Service was recorded.
The resolution read: “That North Down Borough Council confers the Freedom of the Borough upon the Northern Ireland Prison Service and recognises the immense contribution and sacrifice given by its members, under the most trying of circumstances, to uphold the rule of law and democracy in our prisons. Furthermore, it remembers and salutes those officers who gave the supreme sacrifice for Queen and country.”
The director of the Northern Ireland Prison Service, Robin Masefield, CBE, then signed the Register of Freemen and received a sealed and illuminated Deed of Grant.
As part of the ceremony the Northern Ireland Prison Service Band and a Guard of Honour marched from the Royal British Legion in Bangor to the town hall.
The party was then inspected by Councillor Farry, Mr Masefield and the Lord Lieutenant of County Down, in front of a group of more than 100 assembled guests.
Robin Masefield said: “I want to emphasise today the support given to all our staff over the years by spouses, partners, families and friends.
“Without their help, the lives of our staff would have been even more arduous.
“The support of wider Prison Service family is great strength and it is wonderful to have a wide range of representatives with us today.”
Councillor Farry said: “This award honours the professionalism and dedication of the officers in the NI Prison Service who are working to protect and secure our community.
“I am delighted that North Down has been able to publicly show its appreciation of their work and trust that today's ceremony will serve to further strengthen the links between our council and the service in the years ahead.”
From October 8-22 a Northern Ireland Prison Service exhibition is open to the public at North Down Museum in Castle Park, Bangor.
For further information about the exhibition visit the events section of the council's website at www.northdown.gov.uk