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Dublin: 10 °C Monday 24 October, 2016

‘A day of profound sadness’: The prison officer targeted in Belfast bomb attack has died

The father of three was injured when a bomb exploded under his van in east Belfast on 4 March.

Image: Lesley-Anne McKeown/PA Wire

Updated 5.54pm

THE PSNI HAS said today is a day of profound sadness after the death of a prison officer who was seriously injured in a bomb blast in Belfast 10 days ago.

Adrian Ismay was injured when a bomb exploded under his van in east Belfast on 4 March. A father of three adult daughters, he died from his injuries today, aged 52.

He was driving to work from his home on Hillsborough Drive when police believe the device fell off and partly detonated as the vehicle went over a speed bump.

It is understood he was released after he underwent surgery but was rushed back to hospital this morning.

The PSNI confirmed the news this afternoon, with Detective Chief Inspector Richard Campbell offering the force’s deepest sympathies to his family, friends and colleagues.

He said, “Adrian’s profession was simply to keep people safe and we will do everything possible to bring those responsible to justice.

This was a completely senseless attack which only serves to demonstrate the ruthlessness and recklessness of those opposed to peace and who live for violence.

Issuing a statement from the US, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said his thoughts and prayers were with the Ismay family “for their loss and for their trauma”.

I have said repeatedly that such attacks can have no place in a civilised, inclusive society and we must continue to work at all levels to copperfasten a future for Northern Ireland that is committed to the democratic process and the rule of law and is free from violence and intimidation.

Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster said she is “devastated” by the news.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan said he was “deeply saddened” to learn of his death. He described the attack as both callous and cowardly.

We must work together to reject those who would wish to return Northern Ireland to the days when these heinous attacks were commonplace,” he added in a statement.

Their futile agenda will not succeed.

A group calling itself the New IRA claimed responsibility for the explosion in east Belfast.

In a statement to the BBC, the group claimed he was attacked because he had trained staff at Maghaberry Prison in Co Antrim.

The group said he was one of a number of “potential targets” resulting from an ongoing dispute between dissidents and prison authorities about their treatment in the facility.

He had worked for the prison service for more than 28 years.

One man has been charged with attempted murder and causing an explosion with intent to endanger life. The investigation is continuing and the exact cause of death is yet to be established.

The PSNI officers investigating the killing want to trace the movement of two specific vehicles which were seized by police during searches after the attack:

- A red Citroen C3 SKZ6662 which is believed to have been used by those planting the device at 21 Hillsborough Drive at approximately 2.20am during the early hours of Friday 4 March.


- And a silver Skoda Fabia KFZ2352 which is believed to have been used before and after the incident by those involved. Police are particularly interested in any sightings of this vehicle, on the move or parked up, between 7pm on the evening of Thursday 3 March and 4am during the early hours of Friday 4 March.


“It is my understanding that a male was dropped off in this vehicle in Pilot Street in the Docks area of Belfast at around 3am on Friday morning and I am appealing for anyone who saw this, or who knows the identity of this male to come forward to police,” continued Chief Inspector Campbell.

Comments have been disabled as legal proceedings are ongoing. 

More: ‘New IRA’ claims responsibility for Belfast prison officer attack

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