David Ford said: “I got to know Steve Davis well during my time as Minister. He was involved in a range of different duties, in each of which he provided clear leadership and helped drive forward the reform programme of the Prison Service.
“Even during his illness he led the team at Maghaberry Prison with distinction and professionalism. He was a valued colleague to those working in prisons and the partner groups and cared deeply for those in custody for who he was responsible.
“His loss will be most keenly felt by his family and close friends. I extend to them all my deepest sympathy.”