An Irish government minister has attended a memorial service for the hundreds of police officers killed by the IRA during the War of Independence.
Charlie Flanagan’s attendance at the Dublin church for the annual Royal Irish Constabulary and Dublin Metropolitan Police commemoration was the first by any Irish minister.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was represented at the Church of St Paul of the Cross in Mount Argus by his aide-de-camp Commandant Caroline Burke.
Mr Flanagan said it was important to remember those officers who were “murdered in the line of duty,” the Irish Times reported.
“They were doing what police officers do. As they saw it they were protecting communities from harm. They were maintaining the rule of law. These are fundamental to police services everywhere,” he said.
“As minister for justice, I acknowledge that being a policeman is a very tough job. The men that we commemorated were all killed in the line of duty.
“I was really struck speaking to families afterwards over a cup of tea as to the real sensitivities here.
“There was a number of RUC widows from the north who don’t venture often to Dublin. The day brought back poignant memories for them. They were pleased to see a representative of the Irish government there.”
Mr Flanagan said the families of RIC and DMP men killed in the War of Independence have had to live with 100 years of their relatives being labelled “traitors and disloyal citizens”.
He added: “I believe very strongly in the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement and, in the spirit of co-existence. These are sensitive ceremonies and they are very important to me.”