We must never forget fallen RUC officers like my father, murdered by the IRA in 1985

A letter from Rev David Clements:

Saturday, 11th September 2021, 10:04 pm
Updated Saturday, 11th September 2021, 10:10 pm
The picture to illustrate the Stephen White piece shows some of the names of murdered officers on the wall in the RUC George Cross Memorial Garden. In the middle of the picture, above, I can read the name of my own father

I’m grateful to Stephen White for his wise and sensitive article, ‘We should remember and respect those former police officers who paid the ultimate sacrifice, including 60 in South Armagh(News Letter, September 8, see link below).

The picture to illustrate the piece shows some of the names of murdered officers on the wall in the RUC George Cross Memorial Garden. In the middle of the picture, I can read the name of my own father (the same picture is used here).

My father was murdered by the IRA in December 1985 at Ballygawley RUC station.

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Letter to the editor

At the divisional headquarters in Dungannon his name was on a small stone plaque near the entrance. About 20 years ago it was decided to move all those plaques to another part of the station.

As the Methodist minister in the town at the time, I was invited to take part in the service of rededication. As a son of one of those murdered officers I and my mother and siblings were given a great deal of respect.

The memorials were moved to a less public part of the station but they were not hidden in a broom cupboard or a photocopying room. I don’t remember details of the conversations on the matter, and there would have been other conversations I was not part of, but my abiding memory is that the issue was dealt with sensitively and respectfully.

In those days most, if not all, of the senior PSNI officers had served in the RUC, they knew personally those murdered colleagues whose name were now inscribed on those memorial stones.

Two decades on that may no longer be the case. The Chief Constable and his senior team must ensure that the memory of murdered RUC and PSNI officers is still deeply respected for many decades to come.

Far more important to me than the location of a bit of granite with my dad’s name on is the recognition, respect, and gratitude owed to him and all his colleagues by all sections of the community in Northern Ireland.

In the ‘legacy jungle’ we are struggling through at the moment, due honour and respect must be given to those who put on a bottle green uniform to serve all of our community.

The families of those who sacrificed their lives deserve the highest respect. The heroes of our Troubles aren’t those who made bombs and carried guns, but people like my mother.

Rev David Clements, Cullybackey

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