HRH The Princess Royal opens Northern Ireland Prison Service Memorial Garden

Date published: 05 September 2018

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Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal today officially opened the Northern Ireland Prison Service Memorial Garden.

The Memorial Garden, at Hydebank Wood, is a major tribute to the work of the Northern Ireland Prison Service.  It, in particular, marks the service and sacrifice of prison staff who lost their lives through acts of terrorist violence.

The Princess Royal 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.

The Princess Royal was accompanied throughout her visit by Director General of the Northern Ireland Prison Service, Ronnie Armour, who said:

“It was a great honour to welcome The Princess Royal to our Memorial Garden today.  

“This 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 tranquillity and a permanent acknowledgement of the heavy price paid by the families of our murdered colleagues.  

“In addition, this garden 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 Northern Ireland Prison Service worked in partnership with Historic Monuments to recreate the walled garden, which is one of only four of its type on the island of Ireland. The memorial stone, carved from mourne granite, stands at the north end of the garden and is flanked by six yew trees, representing all the counties of Northern Ireland. Six main yew-lined paths radiate from the central area between two water features with seats placed at intersecting intervals.

Notes to editors: 

  1. The Roll of Honour at today’s ceremony was read by Prison Officer of the Year, Senior Officer Wendy Graham.
  2. 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.
  3. Victoria Moody, youngest daughter of Adrian Ismay, the last Prison staff member to be murdered in 2016, presented a posy of flowers to The Princess Royal.
  4. NIPS worked in partnership with Historic Monuments to recreate the garden which dates from around 1735 and is a rare and important survivor of a style of garden known as patte d’oie (so called because of its resemblance to a goose’s foot).  It had 6 paths radiating from a central point.
  5. The garden restoration started in 2017. The central canal was firstly covered with grass and water features added at each end.  Six main yew lined paths, radiate from this central area.
  6. 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.
  7. 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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