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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Disgust in council chamber after “disgraceful comments” by Cllr opposing RUC commemoration

There was an eruption of anger and disgust during a meeting of Mid and East Antrim council on Monday evening (9 May), after a Sinn Féin councillor objected to a proposal to mark the 100 year formation of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC).

Bannside Councillor, Ian Friary, labelled the RUC as a “biased, partisan state force that colluded in the murder of citizens”.

The comments were raised after Mayor -Councillor William McCaughey informed the chamber that he was intending to host an event on the June 1 in response to a letter received from the Ballymena RUC George Cross Association.

Plans to mark the commemoration were proposed by Councillor Audrey Wales, who said she would like to see something that was first discussed in years past by the then Ballymena Borough Council, namely a window that could be installed in the council chamber or The Braid, and dedicated as a tribute to the RUC.

Sinn Féin Councillor Ian Friary

At this stage in the meeting Cllr Friary stated he did not believe that the centenary of the RUC should be celebrated.

“I know people will disagree with me in here,” stated the councillor. “I think the RUC - the role, the history, the participation in the conflict should not be commemorated or celebrated from survivors of a partisan state.”

Amid raised voices from other elected members, Cllr Friary continued:

“No, no, no, members be quiet. You told me to be quiet a couple of weeks ago, or a couple of months ago. You be quiet and let me talk. No, no. It was a biased, partisan state force that colluded in the murder of citizens here, that had to be disbanded. The council should not be marking it’s formation. Thank you Mayor.”

TUV Councillor Timothy Gaston

Angered by the remarks, TUV Councillor Timothy Gaston said:

“Disgraceful comments. Disgraceful comments from the Bannside representative. I am happy to second Alderman Wales’ proposals - a very fitting tribute that would be.”

Responding to Cllr Friary, an upset DUP Alderman John Carson said he was disgusted.

“Mr Mayor, I hardly know where to start now. I am absolutely disgusted, disgusted by those comments from a member of IRA/Sinn Fein. I come from a family, I come from a family Mr Mayor - five members served in the Royal Ulster Constabulary with pride. One of those five were murdered by Cllr Friary’s comrades. Murdered in the city of Londonderry, and I tell you I am absolutely disgusted by those comments tonight.

“Mr Mayor I fully support what Alderman Wales has said and Alderman Wales herself is a former member of the RUC.

“I am annoyed. I am upset that someone in this chamber, I’m not surprised. But for my late father and late uncles I will not take that talk from no one and I will be referring those comments to the Ombudsman to see what he has to say about it. That is absolutely disgusting.”

DUP Alderman Billy Ashe, and DUP Councillor Gregg McKeen went on to call for commemoration stones to also be place in both Larne and Carrickfergus as a “lasting tribute for those the service of RUC throughout each of our towns.”

In Ballymena, a Royal Ulster Constabulary George Cross memorial is due to be unveiled and dedicated in the Memorial Park on 22 May 2022 by the Ballymena RUC George Cross Association.

DUP Councillor John Carson

Following the heated meeting Cllr John Carson made comment on social media saying:

“Just home from a very lengthy council meeting in which l was totally infuriated by the comments of Cllr. Ian Friary of SF/IRA who referred to the RUC as a murderous force.

“Coming from a family that gave a lifetime of service to the RUC, I was left extremely troubled and upset at such a comment but then again not surprised.

“It ill-becomes any member of SF/IRA to talk about murderous forces given their record of murder and mayhem in this province and l have walked behind the coffins of RUC officers brutally murdered by Cllr. Friary’s cronies.

“I make it very clear that l will not allow Cllr. Friary or anyone else to sully the name of the greatest police force ever was.

“In this it’s centenary l was glad that we were able with our colleagues to bring forward proposals for memorial stones in each of our memorial gardens for the RUC GC, also Ald. Wales proposed and l seconded that council place a memorial window in the town hall dedicated to the RUC.”

The Royal Ulster Constabulary was established on 1 June 1922 as the police force for Northern Ireland. Over the year the force played a large part in the Council area, and in the past was given the freedom of the Borough.

A large number of RUC officers were recognised with individual awards for gallantry.

Tragically, from 1969, 303 police officers were killed and many thousands injured as a result of the security situation in Northern Ireland, including a number who were killed in this council area.


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