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Northern Ireland reach highest ever Fifa ranking of 26th

Northern Ireland have reached their best-ever Fifa ranking of 26th.

Northern Ireland are stronger than ever in the football world. Credit: PA

Michael O'Neill's side, who are preparing for the 2016 European Championship, will be boosted by a climb of two places in the official FIFA rankings.

The move continues the upward trend that Northern Ireland have experienced since 2013, with Scotland concurrently rising five places to 40th, although there was no good news for England, Wales or the Republic of Ireland.

England dropped a place to 10th, with the Republic slipping to 31st, while the biggest slide among the three comes for Wales, who fall seven places to 24th despite qualifying for Euro 2016.

Elsewhere, Belgium's five-month stay at the top of the FIFA men's rankings comes to an end, with the Red Devils usurped by 2014 World Cup runners-up Argentina.


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Man charged with murder of prison officer in Belfast

Scene of the attack on a prison officer in east Belfast. Credit: Lesley-Anne McKeown / PA Wire/PA Images

Christopher Robinson, 45, has been charged with the murder of prison officer Adrian Ismay, after having been previously charged with attempted murder, the Police Service of Northern Ireland has said.

Mr Ismay, who was a married father of three, was hurt after a dissident republican bomb detonated under his van on March 4 in east Belfast.

He suffered severe leg injuries and underwent surgery and was thought to be recovering but died suddenly on Tuesday.

Prison officer Adrian Ismay was a married father of three. Credit: ITV News

Lawyers for the man accused of his murder have questioned the cause of his death and a second post-mortem examination will be carried out.

Solicitors representing Chris Robinson asked for a review of the medical care given to Mr Ismay in the 11 days between him suffering serious leg injuries and having a fatal heart attack.

The accused appeared at Belfast Magistrates' Court today to face the substituted charge.

During the hearing a police detective told the district judge he could connect Robinson with the charge, and outlined the preliminary post-mortem findings to the court.

"Mr Ismay died from pulmonary embolism due to deep vein thrombosis following explosion injuries to the legs," he said.

Prison officer dies of Belfast booby-trap blast injuries

Adrian Ismay Credit: ITV News

A 52-year-old prison officer who was injured by a targeted booby-trap bomb blast in Northern Ireland earlier this month has died.

Married father-of-three Adrian Ismay was hurt after a dissident republican bomb detonated under the van he was driving to work on March 4 in east Belfast.

A group calling itself the New IRA claimed to have carried out the attack on March 4. Credit: PA Wire

The prison officer was given surgery for severe leg injuries suffered in the attack and was thought to be recovering but died on Tuesday.

Police Service of Northern Ireland said it was "working to establish the exact cause of Adrian's death" while continuing to investigate the bombing, which a group calling themselves the New IRA has claimed to have carried out.

One man has so far been charged with attempted murder and causing an explosion with intent to endanger life.

Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster tweeted her shock as reports of his death emerged:

Prime Minister David Cameron and Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers also paid tribute.

Chairman of the Prison Officers' Association Finlay Spratt said the death was a complete shock.

Mr Spratt said: "I have no doubt that the explosion that took place was a factor. He was not a person that I knew had any sickness or ailments.

"I just can't believe it. I was just ringing to find out how he was and that's the news I got."

Mr Spratt added: "He was out of hospital and for this to happen - it is as much of a shock as the attack itself."

The long-serving officer worked at Hydebank Wood Young Offenders Centre in south Belfast and had trained new recruits to the NI Prison Service.

The New IRA group told the BBC that Mr Ismay was targeted because he had trained guards at HMP Maghaberry.

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