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Wednesday, 12 December, 2001, 00:37 GMT
Sir Ronnie Flanagan: A profile
Sir Ronnie Flanagan
Sir Ronnie Flanagan is to retire next year
As Chief Constable of both the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the Royal Ulster Constabulary, Sir Ronnie Flanagan has presided over some of the biggest changes in policing in the province.

Although due to resign early next year, Sir Ronnie now faces his most difficult moment, accused of 'flawed judgement' over the Omagh bomb inquiry.

He is "damaged goods" to one community, "impartial and professional" to some in the other.

Such is the gulf between unionists and nationalists in their view of the head of policing in Northern Ireland.

Sir Ronnie Flanagan, 52, has been a police officer for 31 years.

As chief constable for the old RUC since 1996 and of the PSNI since November of this year, he is now well established as the public face of policing and used to the way views about the police of a divided community twist and turn.


I understand the feelings of my members because I share those feelings

Sir Ronnie Flanagan

In October, he said the change of the name of the force to the PSNI would cause "great hurt" to officers.

"I understand the feelings of my members because I share those feelings," he said.

He 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 Chris Patten's report promised.

"If we are to endure this great hurt proposed then I hope the gains envisaged are demonstrable and achievable."

The Patten Report was published in 1999 and was one of the main elements of the Good Friday Agreement peace accord.

'Incentive'

In the same year, Sir Ronnie acknowledged the awarding of the George Cross to the RUC.

He said: "It is the most momentous recognition of past achievement and the most immense incentive to us all now and in future to continue to provide the highest quality police service to all our people in Northern Ireland."

Sir Ronnie joined the RUC in 1970 and six years later had been promoted to the rank of inspector.

Twenty years into his policing career he was a chief superintendent and had moved to the Police Staff College at Bramshill as director of the Intermediate Command Course and then the Senior Command Course, designed to prepare selected officers for chief officer rank.

Knighthood

He achieved this rank himself in 1992 when promoted to assistant chief constable.

He was the RUC's senior commander in Belfast in 1993 at the time of the Shankill bomb and in a period when the city experienced some of the worst violence for many years.

He later became head of special branch and was promoted to deputy chief constable in February 1996.

That same year Flanagan conducted the RUC's "Fundamental Review of Policing". In November he was Sir Hugh Annesley's successor as chief constable.

Sir Ronnie holds a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Master of Arts degree in administrative and legal studies and is a graduate of the FBI Academy.

He was awarded the OBE in 1996 and received a knighthood three years later.

See also:

03 Nov 01 | Northern Ireland
Policing change - Flanagan's view
31 Oct 01 | RUC Reform
Flanagan: Hurt at RUC renaming
23 Nov 99 | Northern Ireland
Flanagan dismisses award concern
06 Sep 99 | Northern Ireland
Flanagan concerned about Patten report
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