PSNI should display tributes to murdered RUC officers

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

The moving of a memorial to murdered RUC officers in Strand Road PSNI station in Londonderry might seem like a subtle and minor development.

The tribute is being moved from a ground floor location to a more private area.

But it is not a minor move. Nor was the moving of a memorial from a stairwell, visible from the ground floor, of a PSNI station in Banbridge in 2013.

They were significant moves. Whatever police chiefs might say, it is being done because it will offend people.

This should be no surprise to anyone at all. There will be much more of it in the coming years. After all, one of the best known pictorial tributes to the RUC dead of the Troubles has images of the officers who were slain, and comes under the heading: ‘Our Murdered Colleagues’.

That will be increasingly unacceptable to a growing number of people who are being taught that they were not “murdered”. They died in “a conflict”, ie the deaths were a tragic consequence of war, as opposed to criminal acts of terror. Increasingly it is impolite to refer to terrorism.

This is a sorry state of affairs. The Troubles ended a mere 19 years ago (if you date it from the second IRA ceasefire). It is one thing for history to be rewritten a century later (as with the Easter Rising: men and women who had minimal support at the time are now treated as unadulterated heroes).

It is quite another for it to happen so soon.

The endless inquiries into state wrongdoing – ombudsman investigations, coming legacy inquests and so on – have been used by republicans to imply that the state engaged in murder and mayhem. It is a shameful distortion.

The PSNI high command must state, and the Secretary of State restate (similar to her recent speech) and opposition parties at Westminster must agree, that the RUC men and women were serving their country, and were murdered – not just killed – by terrorists (not by ‘actors’ to a conflict).