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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 September, 2003, 16:01 GMT 17:01 UK
Prince opens memorial garden
The Prince met staff at a Belfast based charity for the disabled

The Prince of Wales has officially opened a memorial garden which marks the sacrifices and achievements of the Royal Ulster Constabulary in Northern Ireland.

Prince Charles arrived at the George Cross Garden, in the grounds of the Police Service of Northern Ireland headquarters in Belfast, for his final engagement on Tuesday.

He is undertaking a series of engagements as part of a two-day visit to the province.

The RUC became the Police Service of Northern Ireland in November 2001 as part of sweeping reforms to the service under the terms of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

The garden, which cost more than 1m, is the first part of a project which will also include a museum.

A history trail in the garden sets out the story of policing and also features a stream flanked on one side by monuments which list the names of those who have been killed or died in service.

Among those who met the prince on arrival at the garden were Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy, Security Minister Jane Kennedy and Chief Constable Hugh Orde.

Also present was the Chairman of the Policing Board, Professor Desmond Rea.

The service was marked by a short religious service involving the four main church leaders: Church of Ireland Primate Robin Eames; All-Ireland Catholic Primate Dr Sean Brady; Presbyterian Moderator Dr Ivan McKay and Methodist President Reverend James Rea.

The royal guest took the opportunity to speak to a number of people including former RUC chief constables, representatives from the emergency services, the RUC George Cross Widows' Association and the Disabled Police Officers' Association.

Disability issue

Earlier, the prince was welcomed to Belfast by Paul Murphy and Belfast Lord Mayor Martin Morgan.

The prince's first engagement was at a reception to mark European Year of People with Disability, where he met members of a local disability charity, Disability Action.

The charity's chief executive Monica Wilson said the prince's visit had highlighted the issue of disability.

"I think his visit was very important," she said.

"Disability was given a boost, disabled people were given some value, certainly my organisation, Disability Action was well recognised by him in his words.

"I think everyone who was here today really enjoyed his visit."

The prince also visited the Royal Victoria Hospital where he opened the hospital's new state-of-the-art wing.

Some 100 years after his great, great grandfather King Edward VII opened the first Royal Victoria Hospital, Prince Charles performed the official opening of phase one of the new 400 bed, seven storey building.

He was welcomed to the hospital by Northern Ireland Office Minister Angela Smith and the Royal's chief executive William McKee.

Prince Charles visited the intensive care and fracture units of the new complex where he met patients and their families.

An official plaque to commemorate the official opening of the hospital was unveiled by the Prince, who also took time to admire the artwork throughout the building.

RUC widows welcome garden plans
15 Nov 01  |  Northern Ireland

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