The Northern Ireland Prison Service has today held its annual Memorial Service to remember officers who have lost their lives in the course of duty.
Director General of the Northern Ireland Prison Service, Ronnie Armour, laid a wreath in memory of the 32 members of the Prison Service who lost their lives in the course of duty, before taking the opportunity to meet their families.
He said: “It is important that we continue to remember the service and sacrifice of prison staff who lost their lives serving the community.
“The annual Service of Remembrance serves as a reminder of the professionalism, commitment and dedication of Governors, Officers and support staff of the Northern Ireland Prison Service, past and present, in upholding and maintaining our justice system.”
The service, conducted by Prison Service chaplains, is organised annually by the Central Benevolent Fund (CBF).
Wreaths were also laid by Peter May, Permanent Secretary Department of Justice, 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, the local branch of the Royal British Legion and by the Irish Prison Service.
The Memorial Garden at Hydebank Wood, where today’s annual service of remembrance was held, was officially opened by Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, earlier this year.
Ronnie Armour added: “This new garden provides a space where we, as a Prison Service family, can come to remember relatives, friends and colleagues so cruelly taken from us and to reflect on the contribution they made as well as the service they gave. It is a place of tranquility and a permanent acknowledgement of the heavy price paid by the families of our murdered colleagues.”
Notes to editors:
1. Prison Officer Ernie Smyth laid a wreath at the memorial stone. He is the longest serving uniformed member of staff in the Prison Service with almost 40 years’ service.
2. NIPS worked in partnership with Historic Monuments to recreate the garden which dates from around 1735.
3. The NIPS memorial stone contains the names of the men and women of the Northern Ireland Prison Service who were murdered by terrorists. The first, Officer R Walker, died in 1942; the most recent, Senior Officer Adrian Ismay, was killed in March 2016.
4. All media enquiries should be directed to the Department of Justice Press Office 028 9052 6444. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer on 028 9037 8110.
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