A letter accompanied by images of the 302 RUC men murdered in the Troubles has been sent to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner asking him to highlight which ones can be described as paramilitaries.
A grieving mother and a former RUC man, who still has shrapnel from an IRA bullet close to his spine, are among those who have backed the letter, which calls for an apology for the “damning and unbelievable remarks” by Sir Ian Blair.
The letter, posted yesterday, asks Sir Ian to consider the hurt he has caused to the relatives of RUC officers killed in the Troubles and the 10,000 RUC men injured.
Sir Ian has been criticised for likening the RUC to a paramilitary force in an interview earlier this week.
He later justified his use of the word paramilitary by saying: “I was using the word as we would use it in England, because that would be a description of a force that faced the horrific terrorist threat that it did. I think this is Ulster politics choosing words so that every word is weighed in a different direction.”
The letter has been penned by Willie Frazer, of victims’ group FAIR, after speaking to IRA victims and their relatives.
One of those, Thelma Johnston, 65, whose son David was murdered along with fellow RUC community officer John Graham as they walked along a street in Lurgan in June 1997, said she was “totally disgusted” by Sir Ian’s comments.
The two policemen were the last officers to be killed by the IRA in Northern Ireland – a month before the IRA declared its second ceasefire.
Constables Johnston and Graham left widows, small children and two heartbroken mothers.
“I was very angry about Sir Ian calling the RUC terrorists. Three-hundred-and-two RUC men were killed and nearly 10,000 RUC officers were badly injured,” she said.
“My son was killed at 11.45am on June 16, 1997 along with John. They were shot in the head in Lurgan and killed outright.
“They were both two good RUC community officers. When they died, people came out from both sides of the community in Lurgan and stood for David and John. I got Mass cards and sympathy cards from people saying how sorry they were.
“And now for Sir Ian to come out and call my son a terrorist is disgusting. It is so terrible to think those men could be classed as terrorists.”
Sam Malcolmson, 57, said that as an injured officer he got a “hero’s welcome” from the London Met.
“Then, all these years later, the head of the Met is talking to us like that, and calling us paramilitaries,” he said.
Mr Malcolmson, from Katesbridge, said the “slur on the RUC” was an insult to his mother, who collapsed and subsequently died after she saw him lying in bed after being shot in 1972. She was 48-years-old.
“To say something like that is an insult to my mother, my family and all my colleagues who lost their lives.”