Prison Officer Murdered On The M1

Photo : conner395 – Flickr

BY REBECCA MURRAY

David Black, 52, a prison officer at Maghaberry high security prison was killed on Thursday morning at 07.00 GMT on the M1 motorway. Shots were fired at his car on the stretch of motorway between Portadown and Lurgan. The M1 had remained closed for most of Thursday but was reopened later that evening. Dissident republican paramilitaries are believed to be responsible for the attack. Mr Black was a father of two and is the first prison officer to be murdered by paramilitaries since Jim Peacock was killed in 1993.

A car with a Dublin registration pulled up beside Mr Black’s car. Shots were then fired at Mr Black. His car then veered of the road and crashed into the ditch. Mr Black is believed to have suffered serious gunshot wounds.

The car with Dublin registration plates was later found burnt out at Inglewood, Lurgan.

The attack has generated fears of a rise in dissident attacks in Northern Ireland as well as widespread condemnation.  Theresa Villiers, Northern Ireland Secretary, described the attack as “cowardly and evil” while PM David Cameron stated that Westminster would do everything in its power to help bring

the perpetrators to justice.

Stormont First Minister, Peter Robinson, and Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuiness released joint statement saying, “At this time, our thoughts and prayers are with the bereaved family and we condemn this murder in the strongest possible terms”. Martin McGuiness went on to say that attacks of this nature would not kill the peace process and described the killing as “pointless and senseless”.

Mr Black's murder was also condemned by the Orange Order. He had been a member of Montober LOL 661, a lodge based in Cookstown. Mr Greer, from Molesworth Presbyterian Church, said that Mr Black was a man who had a “great sense of humour” and was “devoted” to his family and aged parents.

Mr Black was a highly experienced prison office and had worked through the Troubles. He was one of hundreds of officers who had applied for the prison service redundancy scheme.  Mr Black is now the 30th prison worker to be murdered since 1974 in Northern Ireland.

At present, Maghaberry Jail, located near Lisburn, Co. Antrim is Northern Ireland's maximum security prison and is the focal point for continuing protests by dissident Republican inmates over prison conditions.

Since the incident, three men have been arrested including prominent dissident Republican Colin Duffy. One of the men, a 23 year old, was arrested by the Garda Siochanna in Co. Leitrim while the other man was arrested alongside Colin Duffy.

The Crimestoppers charity has offered £10,000 reward to anyone who has valuable information about this killing.

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