By Sarah Mac Donald - 16 March, 2016
President Michael D Higgins along with church leaders on Tuesday expressed their shock at the “tragic news” of the death of Belfast prison officer Adrian Ismay.
The 52-year-old father of three died from injuries sustained in car bomb attack in Belfast on 4 March.
A new dissident republican group calling itself the New IRA claimed it was responsible for planting the device under the prison officer’s van.
In a statement, Bishop Noel Treanor of Down and Connor said he was shocked when he heard the news and extended his deepest condolences and prayerful support to Adrian Ismay’s family in their grief, and to his colleagues within the prison service at this extremely difficult time.
“As a society, let us be more determined than ever to work for peace and for the good of each other,” Bishop Treanor appealed.
He added that the future of Northern Ireland can only find its foundation in community engagement and political dialogue rather than through “the senseless and destructive pursuit of violence”.
President Michael D. Higgins said the news of the prison officer’s death was distressing.
“His family will feel his loss most acutely, but his death is also a travesty to all of us who are committed to the cause of peace in Ireland,” the President said.
On behalf of the people of Ireland, President Higgins extended his heartfelt sympathy to officer Ismay’s family and colleagues.
The Church of Ireland Bishop of Down and Dromore, the Rt Revd Harold Miller, who is also Chair of the Church of Ireland Northern Ireland Community Relations Working Group said in a statement that he was “deeply saddened” by the death of Prison Officer Adrian Ismay.
Expressing his “sincere and heartfelt condolences” to his family, Bishop Miller said he prayed that they would be “deeply aware of God’s grace, consolation and blessing”, and he asked for continued support for them in prayer in the days that lie ahead.
“The attack on Prison Officer Ismay was a deplorable and terrible act. I commend all those who serve in the Northern Ireland Prison Service on behalf of our community. They deserve our fullest support,” Bishop Miller said.