Prison officer’s funeral underway

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THE funeral of murdered prison officer David Black is under way with a private service at his home in County Tyrone.

The father of two was shot dead on the M1 near Lurgan on Thursday as he drove to work at Maghaberry Prison.

The 52-year-old from Cookstown was the first prison officer to be murdered in Northern Ireland in almost 20 years.

After the service at the house, the cortege will make its way through Cookstown for a service at Molesworth Presbyterian Church.

Mourners began arriving at the church at about 11:00 GMT. Among them are uniformed colleagues of Mr Black.

Police sniffer dogs earlier searched around the church ahead of the funeral.

Dissident Irish republicans are being blamed for Mr Black’s murder.

Three men arrested over it have been released without charge.

The interment, which is private, will take place at Kildress Parish Church.

Presbyterian moderator Rev Roy Patton will be one of the clergy taking part in the service.

He said it would be a sad and difficult occasion.

“I think at a time like this we appreciate the inadequacy of words and how difficult it is to express those feelings we have,” he said.

Mourners are now arriving at Molesworth Presbyterian Church in Cookstown

“But at the same time we want to communicate very clearly to the family the depth of feeling.

“I know that as I share in the service today and bring condolences to the family, I will do so on behalf of not only the Presbyterian church, but a wider community united in revulsion and rejection of such an act.”

At the same time as the funeral, a vigil will be held in Belfast in memory of Mr Black.

It takes place at 13:00 GMT outside the city hall and has been organised by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

Visits to Maghaberry prison have also been cancelled on Tuesday because of the funeral.