David Black’s Union draped coffin carried into church for funeral service

DETECTIVES probing the murder of Northern Ireland prison officer David Black have arrested a 46-year-old man.

The PSNI said that the suspect was arrested in Lurgan, County Armagh, and is being questioned at Antrim police station.

The arrest was made less than 24 hours after the funeral of David Black

Yesterday, mourners at the funeral were told that he was a “man committed to peace”.

And his minister branded his dissident republican killers as little more than “murderous thugs with hatred in their hearts”.

The 52-year-old was ambushed last Thursday morning while driving on the M1 motorway to work at Maghaberry prison.

Dissidents claim they shot the father-of-two as he was “part of the regime” at the Co Antrim prison and also to “boost morale” among renegade republican inmates.

As the funeral got underway, a 29-year-old man arrested by Gardai in Co Leitrim last Friday was released without charge from Carrick-on-Shannon station.

Shops closed and hundreds of people lined the streets as Cookstown came to a standstill this afternoon, with former colleagues from the prison service and friends from the Orange Order among those who gathered to pay their respects at Mr Black’s funeral.

Serving prison officers formed a guard of honour as coffin, draped in the Union flag with his hat place on top, was carried into his local church.

Mr Black’s son Kyle, who had helped carry his dad’s coffin, paid tribute to his father, saying: “The wee man with the big smile”

Reverend Tom Greer of Molesworth Presbyterian Church, where Mr Black was a regular worshipper, said he was horrified at the brutality of his murder.

“It is so terrible that evil men with such hatred in their hearts should rob us of a great man like David with love and kindness in his heart,” he said.

“David Black was a man of honour and principle, a man of kindness and generosity, a man committed to peace and prosperity in Northern Ireland – all those things completely the opposite of the murderous thugs and bloodthirsty criminals who took David’s life.

Mourners at David Black’s funeral today

Rev Greer said former prisoners had spoken of the impact that Mr Black had on their life.

“David viewed his work as something that was meant to improve society. He wanted those who came into prison to leave as changed men.”

A private service was held at Mr Black’s family home, before the family made their way to the church, where his children Kyle and Kyra are expected to pay personal tribute to their 52-year-old father.

They were joined at the church by politicians including First Minister Peter Robinson, Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt and SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness offered to go to the funeral, but it is believed the Black family asked him to say away even though he condemned the killers.

A number of other politicians were also at the funeral, as well as the PSNI Chief Constable and the Director General of the Northern Ireland Prison Service and his southern counterpart.

Rev Greer also spoke of the “great dignity” shown by Mr Black’s family in the wake of his murder.

“They have determined not to seek revenge or to encourage it in anyone else. They long to see justice done but will not meet other people’s bitterness and hatred with any of their own. They set an example to us all,” he said.

PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott at David Black’s funeral

Presbyterian moderator Dr Roy Patton joined in the condemnation of those who carried out the murder.

“We are together in this, totally united as churches, politicians, civic society, ordinary men and women who feel for you today in your unspeakable loss, and who in the strongest possible terms are outraged by such an evil deed.

“This attack on a prison officer was an attack on this whole community,” he added.

Meanwhile in Belfast at the same time of the funeral, hundreds of people, shoppers and workers gathered at Belfast City Hall to show their respects to the murdered prison officer.


Hundreds gather for ICTU rally in Belfast

A lone piper, dressed in tartan killed, played a lament at the rally organised by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU).

Peter Bunting, Northern Ireland regional organiser for ICTU, said: “It is a symbolic day as we gather here at the same time as David Black’s funeral is held in Cookstown.

“There is an old adage that evil prospers while good men do nothing. We as trade unions will stand by whoever is under threat.”

Senior CIRA figure Colin Duffy freed from custody

On Sunday, senior Continuity IRA figure Colin Duffy, 44, and a 31-year-old man, both from Lurgan, were released by the PSNI unconditionally.

They were detained during dawn swoops on Friday morning by detectives from the PSNI’s Serious Crime Branch.

His legal team is now considering suing the PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott for wrongful arrest.


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