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Thursday, September 9, 1999 Published at 14:29 GMT 15:29 UK

UK: Northern Ireland

RUC chief looks to 'new beginning'

The Patten report recommends cutting RUC numbers by 5,000

Northern Ireland's chief constable says many of the proposals contained in the Patten Report would improve policing.

But Sir Ronnie Flanagan said the change of name, uniform and badge will cause immense hurt to officers, their families and relatives of the 302 Royal Ulster Constabulary officers murdered during The Troubles.

RUC Chief Constable Sir Ronnie Flanagan: "Review is not disbandment"
Sir Ronnie said: "If that hurt brings about the true, new beginning that Patten envisages then perhaps the pain has to be endured by us.

"Can Patten bring about that support which has previously been absent without alienating that which has always been present?"

[ image: Ronnie Flanagan:
Ronnie Flanagan: "We have had 302 officers murdered"
He said some recommendations - such as the closure of the Castlereagh holding centre in Belfast - should only be introduced as and when the security situation allowed.

Sir Ronnie also welcomed the report's recommendation that memorials to officers murdered and injured by paramilitaries on both sides be retained.

He said the deaths of the 302 and the injuries suffered by hundreds of other officers must never be forgotten and added: "Without that sacrifice there never would have been a Good Friday Agreement or a Patten Commission."

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