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EDITIONS
RUC Reform Wednesday, 31 October, 2001, 10:16 GMT
Flanagan: Hurt at RUC renaming
Flanagan: Sources of hurt may not bring benefits
Flanagan: Sources of hurt may not bring benefits
The Royal Ulster Constabulary Chief Constable, former officers and the Police Federation have said the change to the force's title will cause "great hurt".

Chief Constable Sir Ronnie Flanagan said that his force accepts and welcomes many of the changes which Peter Mandelson has said the government intends to implement in response to the Patten report on the future of policing.

But speaking to the BBC after the Commons announcement that the government intends to change the RUC name in autumn 2001, Sir Ronnie said: "No-one should underestimate the great hurt that altering the title of the RUC will cause to my members, to past members, to injured members, to their families and to bereaved families."

Sir Ronnie added: "I understand the feelings of my members because I share those feelings.

"We each mutually understand how much this means. It is not because it represents anything of a political nature. This is our brand in the policing world."

'Not convinced of benefits'

The RUC Chief Constable added that he was "not convinced" that the changes to the RUC title would attract more Catholics into the force and bring about the acceptance of Northern Ireland's police force by the nationalist community that the Patten report promised.

We will be hurt, but as dedicated public servants we will do our very best to continue to provide the highest level of service to all members of the public

Sir Ronnie Flanagan
He said: "If we are to endure this great hurt proposed then I hope the gains envisaged are demonstrable and achievable.

"I don't see the concrete evidence that that will be so, but I dearly hope it will be so.

But Sir Ronnie said that if after parliamentary debate the government was successful in implementing the controversial changes, his force would "pursue transition with dignity".

"We will be hurt, but as dedicated public servants we will do our very best to continue to provide the highest level of service to all members of the public in Northern Ireland," he said.

'Bitter disappointment'

Sam Malcolmson and Hazel McCready, both members of the Disabled Officers Association injured during terrorist attacks said the name change would cause "bitter hurt".
Sam Malcolmson: Terrorist appeasement
Sam Malcolmson: Terrorist appeasement
"History will be read as the IRA having defeated the RUC. This is what this is all about. Remove the name and then the IRA can claim a victory," Mr Malcolmson said.

He added that he did not believe that changing the RUC title would encourage more Catholics to join the currently 88% Protestant force, because he said republicans would prevent them from joining.

He said: "It won't matter to recruitment. There will still be intimidation."

Mr Malcolmson added that he was not placated by the award of the George Cross to the RUC last November.
Hazel McCready: Bitter disappointment
Hazel McCready: Bitter disappointment
"To use the George Cross for that purpose sums up what the government have stooped to appease terrorists to keep the bombs and the terrorist incidents from the mainland. They have given in to blackmail and will be blackmailed from now on," he said.

Hazel McCready a former member of the part time reserve said: "My reaction is one of bitter disappointment, particularly for the widows, the mothers and the fathers of those young men and women who have lost their lives doing sterling work and keeping anarchy from the streets of Northern Ireland."

'Vengeful measure''

Les Rodgers Chairman of the Northern Ireland Police Federation which represents 13,000 rank and file RUC officers, said the change would be "destructive".
Les Rodgers: Vengeful and destructive change
Les Rodgers: Change vengeful and destructive
He said: "While the Secretary of State has reined back on some parts of the Patten report the loss of the name is an act of appeasement which does not command widespread support in Northern Ireland."

Mr Rodgers who, delivered a petition containing 400,000 signatures of members of the public opposed to changing the RUC name, badge and symbolism to Downing Street two weeks ago added: "It is a vengeful, destructive measure based on the misplaced and naive belief that the name rather than intimidation has been a significant deterrent to reaching out to all parts of the community."

"It will deeply hurt this force, the entire police family and especially our widows."

'Break up Assembly'

Speaking at his home in Dromore, Ronnie Pollock, 70, a former police officer, who lost both legs when a booby trap bomb exploded under his car in Banbridge, County Down in l980, condemned the plans as yet more concessions to republicans.

Nothing will change, except the proud name of the Royal Ulster Constabulary

Police widow Iona Meyers
"It's been concession, after concession after concession. Everything. It seems as if the bomb and the bullet win every time. David Trimble should get out. Unionists have no future at Stormont."

Mrs Iona Meyers from Carrickfergus, Co Antrim, who runs the RUC Widows' Association pledged there would be no change to the name of their welfare group of nearly 400 members.

Her husband Gary, aged 34, was shot dead in an IRA ambush in the centre of Belfast nearly 10 years ago.

She said: "It's an absolute sop to terrorism. The sacrifice has been in vain, but it falls to us to keep the name going. There will be no change.

"I had hoped, just maybe they'd keep it, that there would be something there at the end. But our fears were well founded and all I feel now is anger, deep, anger."

"They had no reason to change it, because the new name won't make the slightest difference when they start recruiting. Catholics who wanted to join in the past were terrorised by their own community. Nobody else.

"Nothing will change, except the proud name of the Royal Ulster Constabulary."

Read BBC News Online's full special report on policing reform in Northern Ireland

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