TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY is among the high-profile public figures to condemn the killing yesterday morning of prison officer David Black. Mr Black, who was a long-term officer with the Northern Ireland Prison Service and a member of the Orange Order, was shot dead on the M1 in Armagh as he drove to work in Maghaberry Prison.
The Taoiseach condemned the murder and extended his sympathy to the Black family and colleagues. He said:
Those who committed this brutal act will rightly be condemned by all civilised and right-thinking people on this island who utterly reject such hideous and mindless violence.
President Michael D Higgins said that he had spoken with the Northern Ireland Minister for Justice David Ford and asked him to convey his sympathies to David Black’s family and colleagues also. He said:
The President and the Minister agreed that this brutal murder must not deter the efforts of all sides to fully consolidate peace on our island and achieve a shared and reconciled society.
Minister Ford had said that the murder was a “sign of those seeking to drag us back into the past when most of Northern Ireland is preparing for a different future”.
Yesterday, Northern Ireland First Minister David Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness released a joint statement, appealing for help to catch the killers and said that an attack on any member of the NI Prison Service “is an attack on all of us”. Their statement read:
Actions like this have no place in society and those who carried out this murder have nothing positive to contribute, and we refuse to let the people behind this attack divert us from building a better and peaceful future for everyone.
British Prime Minister David Cameron similarly vowed to find David Black’s killers, saying that they “will not succeed in denying the people of Northern Ireland the peaceful, shared future they so desperately want”. He added:
First and foremost, this is a dreadful tragedy for the family and friends of David Black, who has been so brutally murdered as he went about his work keeping the people of Northern Ireland safe. My heart goes out to them.
Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams called the killing “wrong”. He said that there was “no future in such actions which are rejected by the entire community, North and South”. He added:
Whatever position individuals may hold on the efficacy or otherwise of armed struggle in the past, there is no rationale for it in the present circumstances. There is no rationale now for the existence of armed groups or for carrying out armed actions in any part of this country. Those involved have no popular support or political strategy.
He used his statement to point at “those organisations that are politically associated with armed groups have failed to outline how these actions advance republican objectives” and said “The media has a responsibility to ask these organisations where they stand on actions such as Thursday’s murder”.
Tánaiste and Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore condemned the murder “in the strongest possible terms” and Enda Kenny, who was in Berlin, said the Tánaiste had been in contact with the Stormont Assembly to convey the Government’s sympathies.
The Taoiseach will be meeting Robinson and McGuinness at the North South Ministerial Council meeting today, where the murder of David Black will be discussed at length.