Justice Minister Claire Sugden yesterday joined members of the Northern Ireland Prison Service family at their ‘Christmas Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols’ at St. Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast.
The carol service has been hosted annually for 20 years by the NIPS Central Benevolent Fund (CBF) which provides support for widows and families of deceased officers and also gives help to injured and ill officers.
The Very Reverend John Mann, Dean of St. Anne’s, conducted the service which is based on the Nine Lessons of Christmas. Minister Claire Sugden read the first lesson.
Lord Lieutenant of Belfast, Fionnuala O’Boyle, was also among the guests to join the many members of the Prison Service staff and their families at the festive event.
Minister Sugden said: “This is a truly wonderful occasion and it has been my pleasure to celebrate the beginning of Christmas with the Prison Service family. The musicians from Murley Silver Band and choristers from Greenisland Primary School have been outstanding. I was also very impressed by soloist Sophie Shiels.
“The annual carol service is a key date in the Prison Service calendar and I thank the organisers and all who participated in today’s ceremony. I would commend the Prison Service Benevolent Fund for not only organising the event but also for the valuable work they have done throughout the year.
“I would also take this opportunity to wish the staff of the Prison Service and their families a very happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.”