David Ford’s speech to the Assembly on the murder of David Black

This is the speech by Alliance Leader and Minister of Justice, David Ford MLA to the Assembly on the murder of Prison Officer David Black on Thursday 1st November.

David Ford MLA said: “The murder of David Black is first of all a tragedy for the Black family. I was very conscious as I named David Black to the media last Thursday morning that it was only a few minutes after his children had been given the shattering news that their father had died.

“So let us remember this bereaved family – David’s wife, son, daughter, his mother, father, sister and the wider family circle. They are in the thoughts and prayers of this entire community. I hope that they will take some comfort from this and from the united revulsion at his murder.

“I condemned this dreadful murder last week and I condemn it now. It was a crime of the worst sort – the planned, cold-blooded murder of a defenceless man. The murder of a man who served this community with such dedication as a Prison Officer. A crime carried out in a way that put at risk the lives of all those who were travelling on the M1 at that time.

“Those who planned and carried out this dreadful murder are more wedded to the struggle than to any possible cause, for they know that nothing they do will change the mood of the people of Ireland – that the past is the past and we are building a different future. The response to this crime should make clear to them how out of touch they are.

“Others who knew David personally have spoken of the man he was in his family, his community and his church. Last Friday I found out the man he was as a Prison Officer. When I arrived at Maghaberry, the Governor and his Deputy were discussing how to accommodate the wishes of prisoners to pay tribute to a man they respected for the way he had -in the biblical phrase – ‘gone the extra mile’ to care for them.

“On the committal landings in Bann House, where David worked, there was a very subdued atmosphere. Staff and prisoners alike were clearly very upset by his loss. I was told of David’s concern for the welfare of the vulnerable; of how he put his faith in one young man to allow him to become an orderly; of his friendship as a colleague.

“The murder of David Black has united the people of Northern Ireland in grief and in opposition to those who carried out the deed. Those of us in the Assembly, the church leaders, civic representatives in Cookstown and local clergy of all denominations have spoken with one voice. That has been matched by our colleagues across the border.

“Alan Shatter, Minister of Justice and Equality, first rang me to pass on the sympathy of the Irish Government and has spoken powerfully to the media. President Higgins also rang me personally, to ask that I convey his condolences to Mrs Black and her family. It is clear that the terrorists stand in total opposition to the people of Ireland, North and South.

“I know that the police, with the support of the prison service will continue to pursue those responsible and bring them to justice. I will do what I can to ensure that the Chief Constable has the necessary resources. I know that the PSNI is receiving full support of An Garda Siochana. They also need the support of the community, and any information that might help convict the perpetrators.

“The Assembly is united in opposition to those who committed this crime. But let that not overshadow the needs of those who are suffering the most. As the representatives of the people of Northern Ireland, let us assure Yvonne, Kyle, Kyra, along with David’s parents and sister, Lorraine that they are in our thoughts and prayers.”


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