Saturday 18 January 2020

Clinton condemns 'outrageous and cowardly' Black murder

Michael McHugh, Press Association

DETECTIVES probing the murder of a prison officer in Northern Ireland were continuing to question three men over the killing today.

David Black (52) was gunned down on Thursday during a high-speed ambush on a motorway as he drove to work at Maghaberry high-security prison

Two men, including prominent dissident republican Colin Duffy, were arrested north of the border yesterday morning before a 29-year-old suspect was detained in the Irish Republic last night. They remain in police custody in connection with the murder.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has described the killing as a senseless cowardly act.

In statement, Mrs Clinton said there could be no justification for the murder of the prison officer.

"There is no justification for this outrageous and cowardly act," she said.

"I offer my sincere condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of officer Black, who had a long and distinguished record of service.

"The United States remains resolute in support of the people of Northern Ireland, who have condemned violence and embraced the path to peace and reconciliation."

Mrs Clinton and President Bill Clinton have supported the Northern Ireland peace process since the 1990s.

Duffy (44) was detained with a second man in Lurgan, Co Armagh, just miles from where Mr Black was ambushed on the M1 motorway on his way to work at the top-security prison, near Lisburn, Co Antrim.

The 29-year-old suspect was detained in Co Leitrim and taken to Carrick-On-Shannon garda station under Section 30 Offences Against the State Act 1939, Irish police said.

Mr Black's killing has prompted condemnation from across Britain and Ireland while detectives leading the inquiry insisted they needed the public's help to bring the killers to justice.

Superintendent Keith Agnew declared: "Condemnation, however strident, is not enough. It needs to be translated into information if our investigation is to make maximum progress."

Duffy, 44, who has been cleared of murder charges on three separate previous occasions - the latest last January after two soldiers were shot dead outside Massereene Army barracks in March 2009 - was arrested at his home in the Kilwilkie estate where republicans opposed to the peace process have huge support.

Politicians on all sides condemned the murder of the prison officer, who was planning to retire next year after more than 30 years of service.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who was in Armagh for talks with Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, said the dissident republicans had been linked to criminality and drug dealing which had also led to deaths on the streets of Dublin.

Mr Black's murder had overshadowed the meeting, he said.

Police have confirmed the dark blue Toyota Camry car used by the gunman and then later burned out had Dublin-registered number plates.

Duffy and the second man, 31, are being held at Antrim but detectives clearly believe it will be up to the public to give them the breakthrough they need.

Mr Black drove from his home in Cookstown, Co Tyrone, then through Stewartstown, and minutes after pulling on to the motorway in his Audi A4, the car carrying the gunman pulled up alongside.

The killer opened fire after a passenger side window was lowered. Mr Black was hit and his car then careered off the road and into a ditch.

Secretary of State Teresa Villiers said the terrorists would not succeed.

She told the Commons: "The future of Northern Ireland will only ever be determined by democracy and by consent. That is a clear message coming from Northern Ireland in the wake of this tragedy, from political leaders, from church leaders and from across the wider community."

Mr McGuinness claimed the dissidents had the support of only a tiny minority.

He added: "What you have to understand is that if you support these people you are effectively supporting people who are swimming in a sea of criminality and drugs, dressing it up on occasions in a flag of political convenience, and you shouldn't be under any illusions about that."

Away from attacks on security force personnel, they had become embroiled in violent feuds with drug dealers on both sides of the Irish border, resulting in a number of recent murders.

Mr McGuinness said: "People need to get real. They need to recognise the danger that a tiny number of people can represent to human beings and they need to recognise that the world has changed, that over the course of the last 15 years we have built something, all of us together, which we can be very proud of."

Mr Robinson branded the dissidents the enemies of everyone across the island of Ireland.

He added: "When someone strikes at the Prison Service in Northern Ireland, that's our Prison Service, that's part of our community, they are attacking us as part of that community and the community must give a community response to that."

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