Memorial for fallen Londonderry police officers rededicated

Mark Olphert, son of RUC reservist John Olphert who was murdered by the IRA in Londonderry in 1983.
Mark Olphert, son of RUC reservist John Olphert who was murdered by the IRA in Londonderry in 1983.

A memorial in honour of Londonderry’s fallen police officers was relocated and rededicated during a special service at Strand Road police base on Thursday.

There was an outcry from families of the 41 RUC GC and PSNI officers commemorated on three stone tablets – which had been removed from an area within public view and placed in a third floor photocopying room.

It was a very nice service which was dignified and done with respect

Almost 3,000 people signed an online petition, launched in March, calling for the memorial to be reinstated in its original position.

In response to the initial criticism of his decision, PSNI commander Superintendent Mark McEwan said: “It was never my intention to cause any distress or hurt and I wholeheartedly apologise for any distress this may have caused.”

The son of an RUC reservist shot dead in the city in 1983 attended Thursday’s service.

Mark Olphert, whose father John was shot dead at his Nelson Drive shop by the IRA, said there “was no ill feeling” between his family and Supt McEwan now that “honour was restored”.

Mr Olphert said around 40 people representing a number of the fallen officers’ families attended the “very sad and sombre” service.

“It was a very nice service which was dignified and done with respect. We can just draw a line under it now and move on I think,” he said.

“The chief constable was there, the assistant chief constable, Stephen Martin, was there, Dean [William] Morton, Rev [David] Lattimer, and representatives of RUC welfare and the Police Federation.

“Mr McEwan led the service and he has certainly made amends. There is no animosity. It was a nice way to honour and remember all the RUC GC officers murdered in the city, and PSNI officers who have died in the line of duty,” Mr Olphert added.

Writing on his Facebook page, Mr Olphert said: “Especially pleasing to have SDLP Deputy Mayor [Jim] McKeever in attendance and Father [Thomas] Canning participate...Rest easy Pop. Honour restored xo.”

In an email to officers in February, Supt McEwan said: “The intention in creating this dedicated new area...was to have an appropriate quiet place which would afford officers and staff additional privacy to remember and honour our RUC and PSNI colleagues who have sadly lost their lives.”