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Tuesday, September 7, 1999 Published at 20:30 GMT 21:30 UK

UK: Northern Ireland

Relatives of RUC fallen oppose overhaul

A memorial window pays tribute to RUC fallen

As the publication of Chris Patten's report on the Royal Ulster Constabulary approaches, relatives of police officers killed by paramilitaries have been speaking out against a perceived threat to the force.

BBC Northern Ireland's Yvette Shapiro:"Bereaved do not want RUC to change"
A total of 302 officers have been killed in paramilitary attacks during the conflict, the first being Constable William Arbuckle who was shot on the mainly Protestant Shankill Road in Belfast in 1969.

Two RUC community policemen shot dead in Lurgan in June 1997 were the last police officers to be killed by the IRA in Northern Ireland.

Pattern Report
It was a month before the IRA declared its second ceasefire.

Constables David Johnston and John Graham left widows, small children and two heartbroken mothers.

Landmine attack

"Whenever that happened to David, I just couldn't take it in that someone would do that to my son," said Thelma Johnston.

Pearl Graham, the mother of Constable Graham, is steadfast in her opposition to proposals to change the name of the RUC.

"My son has that name on his headstone.... who wants to change it - terrorists," she said.

[ image: William Montgomery opposes any change in RUC]
William Montgomery opposes any change in RUC
The youngest constable to be killed was 18-year-old Stuart Montgomery who died with a colleague in an IRA landmine attack on 7 September in 1981.

His father William Montgomery blames this murder for the subsequent death of his wife.

"I watched my wife die.... it put her in an early grave," he said.

The speculation fuelled by media leaks has caused anguish for many bereaved families. They believe the rumoured changes will dishonour the memory of their loved ones.

"It would be an insult," said William Montgomery.

He believes that the RUC must be left intact for the sake of all the families and those who died. He doesn't believe it should be radically overhauled.

Families who have been united in grief are now united in their opposition to changing the force.

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