May 27 2012

Police officers from around the world have attended a church service in Belfast marking the 90th anniversary of the formation of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC).

Most of the 1,100-strong congregation at St Anne’s Cathedral was made up of widows, parents and relatives of deceased RUC officers, as well as disabled and retired members.

They were joined by senior figures including First Minister Peter Robinson, Justice Minister David Ford and Chief Constable Matt Baggott.

The RUC was formed on June 1, 1922, and was awarded the George Cross (GC) in 2009, before it was replaced by the new-look Police Service of Northern Ireland in 2001.

Former Church of Ireland Primate Lord Eames told the inter-denominational event: “The image of the RUC GC as a family in which each part shared the other’s burdens has become even more clear as time has passed.

“The place of the RUC GC in the history of Northern Ireland is assured as our society has moved forward, even as we continue to see the scars so many lives still carry.”

Senior officers from the FBI, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Australian Federal Police and a number of forces from Britain attended.

The service was conducted by the Dean, the very Revd John Mann, assisted by senior clergy from the four largest denominations in Northern Ireland.

The Order of Service contained a special message of support from the Prince of Wales, Patron of the RUC George Cross Foundation. Organisers said a member of the Victoria Cross & George Cross Association also travelled from Australia to take part.

A total of 312 RUC officers were murdered and more than 10,000 injured, with 300 seriously disabled.