Funeral for murdered prison officer
The funeral for murdered Northern Ireland prison officer David Black will take place on Tuesday, it was confirmed today.
The service will be held at Molesworth Presbyterian Church in Cookstown where the 52 year-old father-of-two had attended regularly.
Mr Black, who had served more than 30 years’ with the Prison Service was gunned down on Thursday during a high-speed ambush on a motorway as he drove to work at Maghaberry high-security prison. He had been planning to retire next year.
Last night US secretary of state Hillary Clinton threw her weight behind the wave of condemnation and branded the killing a cowardly and senseless action.
Mrs Clinton, who has been a key figure in the peace process, applauded the efforts of police to bring the perpetrators to justice. “There is no justification for this outrageous and cowardly act,” she said.
“I offer my sincere condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Officer Black, who had a long and distinguished record of service,” she said in a statement.
“The United States remains resolute in support of the people of Northern Ireland, who have condemned violence and embraced the path to peace and reconciliation.”
Sinn Féin Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness yesterday endorsed a PSNI call for public support in tracking down Mr Black’s suspected dissident republican killers.
Mr McGuinness described the dissidents who gunned down Mr Black as a “ragbag of people” who were “swimming in a sea of criminality and drugs, dressing it up on occasion with a flag of political convenience”.
His comments, made some hours after two men were arrested in connection with the murder, reinforced the appeal from the PSNI senior investigating officer Det Supt Keith Agnew for public assistance in apprehending Mr Black’s killers.
A third man was arrested in Co Leitrim by gardaí yesterday evening in connection with the murder. All three remain in custody today.
Meanwhile the Crimestoppers charity has offered a reward of up to £10,000 for information that would assist in convicting the killers.
Supt Agnew, in welcoming the expressions of support and condemnation added, “But condemnation, however strident, is not enough. My team of detectives need condemnation to be translated into information if our investigation is to make maximum progress.”
One of the men questioned yesterday at Antrim police station is prominent Lurgan republican Colin Duffy, who earlier this year was acquitted of a charge of murdering British soldiers Patrick Azimkar and Mark Quinsey in Antrim in 2009.
At the time of writing no organisation has admitted killing Mr Black but the main suspicion is falling on a new amalgamation of dissidents comprising the Real IRA, Republican Action Against Drugs and unaffiliated republicans, some of whom are from the wider mid-Ulster area.
Mr Black’s wife Yvonne, son Kyle and daughter Kyra, from Cookstown, Co Tyrone, said there must be no retaliation for the murder. Books of condolence were opened yesterday in Cookstown.
After a meeting of the North-South Ministerial Council in Armagh yesterday the Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore, First Minister Peter Robinson and Mr McGuinness standing alongside each other offered their sympathy to the Black family and condemned the murder.
Mr Kenny said dissidents were “inextricably interlinked with criminality, extortion and drug dealing which has led to deaths on the streets of Dublin”, while Mr Gilmore said their threat was “not confined to north of the Border”.
Mr Robinson said there was a “galvanising of elected public opinion on the island” of Ireland against the dissidents who were “evil and immoral”.
Every “scrap of information” should be given to the PSNI and Garda, Mr McGuinness said.