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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

Council approve memorial to RUC in Ballyclare

A permanent memorial to the Royal Ulster Constabulary George Cross is to be erected in Ballyclare War Memorial Park as a tribute by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council.

It is proposed it will be similar in size to the existing memorial in Antrim.

Councillors have agreed it will bear the inscription:

“This memorial marks the great sacrifice and honours the dutiful and brave service of all men and women of this borough who served in the Royal Ulster Constabulary George Cross and their dedicated contribution to policing.  Installed to mark the centenary of the foundation of policing in Northern Ireland”.

The council is also planning to hold a civic event in Mossley Mill in Newtownabbey before the end of the present local government term. It is expected guests will include representatives of various RUC associations and bodies representing former officers as well as the PSNI.

In December, a DUP motion called for a “tangible and lasting” commemoration in the borough to the former RUC, a centenary after its formation.

Proposing the motion, Threemilewater Councillor Sam Flanagan reminded the chamber the policing organisation, which was formed in June 1922, was awarded the George Cross in 1999 in recognition of the force’s “collective courage”.

“Many in our society came together to mark the centenary of the RUC’s formation and policing in Northern Ireland,” he said.

He also recalled King Charles III paid tribute to the organisation during his visit to the province in September.

“I thought it was appropriate to mark this in council and to reflect and commemorate this milestone,” Cllr Flanagan stated.

He pointed out 302 police officers lost their lives during the Troubles, more than 10,000 officers were injured, 300 severely disabled, and 1,100 families had to be rehoused.

“I know of a number of RUC families who lost loved ones. I know that pain is still there and still raw. The heroism of those officers will never be forgotten by any of us in Northern Ireland. It cannot ever be repaid.

“It took courage to be a member of the RUC. Those brave families deserve our recognition.”

Former RUC officer Glengormley DUP Cllr Paula Bradley seconded the motion saying:

“I am absolutely delighted to support this motion. I wore that uniform for ten years. Those were ten years of fear.”

Cllr Bradley spoke of the apprehension of her children who knew the escape route in their house.

“I know what it was like to live in fear and always to be alert and to be checking. I also know that the RUC was not perfect, but like any organisation is not perfect, but the vast majority of the men and women I served with were honourable people. They were there to do a day’s work to protect society and uphold the law.

“I know of families who suffered greatly, marriages that broke up, health that declined because of pressures they were put under. Many, many people suffered greatly.”

The motion was approved after 27 councillors voted in favour with four Sinn Fein councillors voting against and three SDLP abstentions.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) was formed on November 4 2001. The first of the newly recruited PSNI officers commenced their duties in April 2002.


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