Major events to mark 100 years of NI policing

RUC GC Foundation to mark centenary of distinguished police service

 The Royal Ulster Constabulary George Cross (RUC GC) Foundation is to mark the centenary of policing in Northern Ireland with a host of major events to highlight the commitment, sacrifice and distinguished service of officers.

The Chair of the RUC GC Foundation, Stephen White OBE, said the anniversary will see the emphasis placed on remembrance and acts of courage and heroism since the formation of the RUC in June 1922.

The centenary will be marked at Church Services in St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast and the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, a concert, lecture, gala dinner and a number of Acts of Remembrance to mark the inception of the RUC.

Mr White, who served in both the RUC GC and the PSNI before retiring as an Assistant Chief Constable, said since June 1922 when the RUC came into being until the force was incorporated into the PSNI, a total of 462 lost their lives in the line of duty or in service. They included seven officers killed in German air raids on Belfast during the Second World War, but the bulk of casualties, 302 men and women, were murdered in terrorist attacks during ‘the Troubles’.

Two PSNI officers have been murdered and others left with life-changing injuries as a result of terrorist acts.

Mr White said: “This year is a milestone for policing not only in Northern Ireland, but the entire island.

It was a time of immense upheaval across Ireland, with the War of Independence, the Irish Civil War, and the creation of Northern Ireland.

From its creation, the story of the RUC has been one of people and of serving the community. Its people have been at the forefront of dealing with some of our most traumatic episodes.

Alongside this story, of sacrifices made by officers and staff, are the countless stories of what life was like for the families of officers. These are the stories of friendships and comradery, of innovations, international recognition and world-leading achievements.

’The Troubles’ easily eclipsed everything that had gone before for its scale of savagery and brutality. Of the 462 officers who died in service, 302 were murdered were between 1969 and 1998. Over 8,000 were injured – more than 300 severely disabled.

Officers suffered dreadfully but so, too, did their families. 1,200 police families were forced to abandon their homes because of threats from terrorists across the political spectrum. The upheaval was immense. Often with little warning, families were spirited away to safe locations, all designed to thwart the terrorist.

The personal cost was high with partners having to quit their jobs and children taken away from friends and relations and enrolled in new schools.

Such was the price paid by officers and their loved ones that in 1999, the RUC was awarded the George Cross for ‘collective and sustained bravery.’

In the 80 years of the RUC, countless thousands of lives were saved by officers who took enormous risks to frustrate, undermine and counter dedicated terrorist organisations from both sides of the religious and political divide.

Officers paid a heavy price and, through their endeavours, forced murderous paramilitaries to call it a day. The RUC GC was the ‘midwife’ that delivered peace. Not a perfect peace, but certainly a peace that unlocked new potential for a society determined to emerge from a generation of conflict.

In our centenary year, we will particularly mark the sacrifices and honour the achievements of the RUC GC. A range of events will reflect and honour those who cannot be with us, and reach out to families still suffering acute pain and say ‘we will always be by your side.’

We may have made mistakes along the way, but there is no denying the commitment, bravery and integrity of officers who did their level best to protect society and make accountable the terrorists who caused the pain and suffering. We owe these men and women a deep debt of gratitude.”