A special service to commemorate the hundreds of Irish police officers killed during the Irish War of Independence has been described as a “fitting tribute” by one of the organisers.
Most of the officers who died between 1916 and 1922 were Catholics, with many off-duty Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) and Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP) officers shot dead in front of their families as they left Sunday mass.
Last year the RIC/DMP Commemoration Committee in Dublin caused controversy by holding a similar religious service – the first of its kind – at the national police memorial in the city’s Glasnevin cemetery.
This year’s event was held at Mount Argus church in south Dublin.
Commemoration committee honorary secretary Gerry Lovett said he was disappointed that it couldn’t go ahead at Glasnevin due to insurance and health and safety stipulations, but said Saturday’s service was a huge success.
Mr Lovett said the committee had faced criticism from some Irish republicans for paying tribute to a British-backed police force.
However, he described the service as a “fitting tribute” to the 530 RIC officers killed during those turbulent years.
“Their hands weren’t clean at all times, but let’s not condemn the 90 per cent or more who behaved honourably under dreadful conditions.
“There were over 500 killed within five or six years – there was horrendous slaughter,” he said.
Welcoming the invited guests to Mount Argus on Saturday, the retired Garda officer said: “We are privileged to have here serving and retired police officers from the Police Service of Northern Ireland – previously the Royal Ulster Constabulary – who are here with their families.
“We acknowledge the terrible price you have paid for your service over the last 40 years.”
Representatives of the British Ambassador, Garda Commissioner, the PSNI and both the RUC GC Foundation and RUC GC Widows attended.
“It was very well attended and a very poignant occasion,” Mr Lovett added.