It is important to remember Prison Service staff who have lost their lives as a result of their service, Justice Minister David Ford said today.
He was speaking after the Annual Memorial Service at the Prison Service College in Millisle.
David Ford said: “The Memorial Service today is an important event in the Prison Service calendar. While all staff who have died are remembered, special emphasis is placed upon those who have been killed as a result of their service. 31 Prison Service staff have lost their lives in the course of duty.
“Throughout some very difficult years, Prison Service staff served the whole community. They performed their duties against a background of intimidation against them and their families. They were living in fear and danger.
“Today’s service provides an opportunity not only to remember those who have died but also to acknowledge the suffering and pain of their families, friends, and colleagues left behind. My thoughts are with them all at this time.”
During the inter-denominational service, conducted by Prison Service chaplains, the Justice Minister laid the first wreath at the Memorial Stone with the Director General Sue McAllister laying a wreath on behalf of the Northern Ireland Prison Service.
The Minister commended the Central Benevolent Fund (CBF) who organised today’s Memorial Service ensuring their lost colleagues have not been forgotten.
Before the ceremony, the Minister was invited to inspect the Northern Ireland Prison Guard of Honour. A two-minute silence was observed, after which the names of the Prison Service personnel who lost their lives were read out by former NIPS Director Max Murray.
Sue McAllister, Director General of the Northern Ireland Prison Service said: “Today’s service provides us all with an opportunity to remember our friends and colleagues, and the contribution they made to the Northern Ireland Prison Service and the wider community.”
Wreaths were also laid by representatives of the bereaved widows, The Central Benevolent Fund, The Prison Officers’ Association, The Prison Governors’ Association, NI Public Service Alliance, The Prison Service Trust, The NIPS Sports Association, The Retired Officers’ Fellowship, and the local branch of the Royal British Legion. Wreaths were also laid by the Irish Prison Service.