Belfast Telegraph

Memorial service honours fallen prison officers

By Adrian Rutherford

Prison officers who died in the line of duty have been remembered at a special service.

The Northern Ireland Prison Service's annual memorial at the Prison Service College in Millisle remembered the 31 officers who died.

During the inter-denominational service, conducted by Prison Service chaplains, Justice Minister David Ford laid the first wreath at the memorial stone with Director General Sue McAllister laying a wreath on behalf of the Prison Service.

Mr Ford said: "It is important that we never forget the ultimate sacrifice made by the 31 Prison Service staff who died in the line of duty. Society can never repay the debt owed to these officers. Through many troubled years, they served the whole community and performed their duties against a backdrop of murder, threats and intimidation.

"As we saw with the murder of David Black a year ago, this threat remains a reality and serves as a chilling reminder of the difficulties faced by prison officers and their families.

"Today's service provides an opportunity not only to remember those who lost their lives, but also to acknowledge the suffering and pain of their families, friends and colleagues that they left behind. My thoughts are with them all."

Before the ceremony, Mr Ford inspected the Northern Ireland Prison Service band and guard of honour accompanied by Ms McAllister and Ian Simpson, chair of the Central Benefit Fund.

A two-minute silence was observed, and the Prison Service roll of honour was read by senior officer Amanda Wood.

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