Funeral attack on prison officer’s ‘cowardly’ killers

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The family of murdered prison officer David Black denounced his killers as cowards at his funeral yesterday.

Mr Black, 52, was killed by suspected dissident republicans in a shooting on a motorway as he drove to work at Maghaberry prison, Co Antrim, last Thursday.

He was the first prison warder to be killed by paramilitaries in Northern Ireland in 20 years.

Mr Black’s daughter Kyra, 17, paid tribute to her “special hero” but the married father-of-two’s extended family said they hoped the perpetrators would “get what they deserve”.

The head of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, Dr Roy Patton, vowed that the gunmen’s efforts to drag Northern Ireland backwards would not work.

Prison officers in uniform carried the coffin to Molesworth Presbyterian Church in Cookstown, Co Tyrone, in military fashion behind a Scottish bagpiper who played a lament.

Stormont First Minister Peter Robinson, Police Service of Northern Ireland chief constable Matt Baggott and justice ministers north and south of the Irish border attended the funeral.

Mr Black’s cousin Jim Slaine told mourners: “The people who did this to David are cowards to the extreme. They have probably never done a decent day’s living, unlike the man they killed.

“We all hope that the perpetrators get what they deserve in life but we all know they will have to live with what they have done and they will meet their maker.”

Yesterday’s funeral attracted thousands of people who crowded outside the doors of the packed church and into an adjoining hall.

Prison service hat, gloves and a single cream flower were carried on the union flag-draped coffin as officers formed a guard of honour.

Inside the church, Mr Black’s daughter Kyra had a special message: “The one thing I want you to know, I am so proud of you, you are not just today but forever my special hero.”

Son Kyle, 20, also had a message for the gunmen. “They can take Daddy from us ... they can deprive Mummy of a loving husband, but they can never take away the love that we have in our hearts,” he said.