New Year’s Honours: Somebody was thinking about me, says Finlay Spratt MBE

Finlay Spratt, former chairman of the NI Prison Officers Association, has been given an MBE
Finlay Spratt, former chairman of the NI Prison Officers Association, has been given an MBE
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More people from across Northern Ireland who were recognised in the New Year’s Honours list have told the News Letter how surprised and humbled they are to receive the awards.

Finlay Spratt, chairman of the Prison Officers Association for three of the most violent decades of the Troubles, was awarded an MBE.

“It was very nice to be recognised like this after 42 years service,” he said. “Somebody was thinking about me.”

He joined the Prison Service in 1976 and only left active service in April this year, stepping down as a governor at Magilligan Prison.

Dozens of his members were murdered for their service during the Troubles, he said.

“I had more threats on my life than breakfasts. I lived in volatile times and was under threat by paramilitaries from both sides. But I always stuck to my guns and spoke my mind in the media, even when prison management would not do it.

“The common thread of what I said was that the paramilitary attacks on prison officers were pointless because we did not make the policy. We were only there to do a job.

“But at times I also spoke out on behalf of prisoners when management were doing them wrong. I made no difference.”

Colin Moffett, head of corporate policy at Newry Mourne and Down District Council, said he was “delighted” to be awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for 19 years of service in local government,

“I was surprised, delighted and humbled,” he said. “I knew nothing about it. To me it is all down to the people you work with, they are the ones who make you look good. In my view public service it is not about seeking attribution but making a positive contribution.”

His work has mainly focused on equality, good relations and policy.

David Hammerton from Co Armagh was also recognised with a BEM, for services to police and military families and the community.

“Obviously I was delighted and privileged to be nominated,” he said. “I still don’t know who it was put me forward for it.”

Mr Hammerton served five years with the UDR, 27 in the police and currently holds administrative offices with the Royal British Legion, RUC GC association and Co Armagh Phoenix Group.

He is also an observer and mentor for Lisburn Advanced Motorcyclist Group, chairman of Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Seniors Network and a committee member with the Police Insignia Collectors Association (PICA).