Justice Minister Naomi Long today attended the Northern Ireland Prison Service (NIPS) Annual Memorial Service to remember officers who lost their lives in the course of duty.
This year’s ceremony at Hydebank Wood was curtailed due to the Coronavirus restrictions, with only a small number of invited guests in attendance.
Minister Long said: “The annual Memorial Service is an important event in the Prison Service calendar. It is a time to remember all Prison Service staff killed while serving the community. It is a time to reflect on the contribution they made, and also a time to remember their families and loved ones who are left behind.
“I consider it to be a privilege to be able to attend today’s service. Sadly the widows and close relatives of Prison Service staff who lost their lives in the line of duty are unable to attend today, but it is important we remember them all. They carry their great suffering, pain and loss with dignity.”
During the service, conducted by Prison Service chaplains, Minister Long laid the first wreath at the Memorial Stone with the Director General Ronnie Armour 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.
A two-minute silence was observed, after which the names of the 32 Prison Service personnel who lost their lives were read out by Director of Prisons Austin Treacy.
Ronnie Armour, Director General of the Northern Ireland Prison Service, said: “We remember with pride 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, The Retired Prison Officers’ Fellowship and families of the bereaved.