Gloves, medals and hat of murdered prison officer put on coffin as family say final farewell
Published 22/03/2016 | 13:25
The funeral for a prison officer murdered by dissident republicans in Northern Ireland is under way in Belfast.
Family, friends and colleagues of 52-year-old Adrian Ismay are attending a service at a church off the city's Shankill Road.
Mr Ismay, a married father-of-three, died 11 days after suffering serious leg injuries when a bomb exploded underneath his van.
A public vigil for the officer will be held outside City Hall later.
Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers is attending the funeral service at Woodvale Methodist Church, as is Stormont First Minister Arlene Foster.
Mr Ismay's Prison Service cap, gloves and medals were placed on top of his coffin as it was carried inside the church.
A dissident republican group calling itself the New IRA, which opposes the Northern Ireland peace process, claimed to have carried out the attack on the long-serving officer.
Police fear the bombing was part of a planned surge in dissident activity ahead of the symbolic republican centenary of the Easter Rising against British rule in Dublin.
Mr Ismay had been released from hospital in the wake of the blast in east Belfast on March 4 and had reportedly been making good progress. But he died unexpectedly last Tuesday when a blood clot triggered a heart attack.
The results of a post-mortem examination led detectives to open a murder investigation.
In the wake of Mr Ismay's death, a number of dissident republicans held in Maghaberry high-security prison in Co Antrim reportedly celebrated by lighting cigars.
A 45-year-old man from west Belfast has been remanded in custody charged with the murder.
Mr Ismay worked at Hydebank Wood Young Offenders Centre in south Belfast, where he trained new recruits to the Northern Ireland Prison Service (NIPS).
All visits to Maghaberry and Hydebank Wood have been cancelled today to allow staff to attend their colleague's funeral.