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RUC Chief Constable Ronnie Flanagan
"This is an acknowledgement of all those without whom policing would not have been possible"
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Tuesday, 23 November, 1999, 13:33 GMT
Parties react to RUC honour
Sir Ronnie Flanagan is chief constable of the RUC

Northern Ireland's political parties have been reacting to the news that the Royal Ulster Constabulary has been awarded the George Cross.

The announcement was made by Buckingham Palace on Tuesday to honour the courage and dedication of the province's police officers and their families.

The Ulster Unionist leader was among the first to offer his congratulations.

David Trimble said that without the sterling work of the RUC Northern Ireland would not now have the prospect of peace and stability within its grasp.

David Trimble: Honour is in recognition of the outstanding service
Mr Trimble said: "This singular honour is in recognition of the outstanding service and sacrifice made over 30 years by the brave men and women of the RUC."

However, Sinn Fein has condemned the decision as being "grossly offensive to the many people who have suffered at the hands of this discredited force".

Policing spokeswoman Bairbre de Brun said: "This latest attempt to give credibility... flies in the face of the promise in the Good Friday Agreement for 'a new beginning to policing'."

But, the Police Federation for Northern Ireland, which represents rank-and-file officers, has welcomed the award.

Chairman Les Rodgers said: "This unique honour to a police service is definitive recognition of the work of the RUC, particularly over the past 30 years.

The nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party has also reacted to the news.

The SDLP's Seamus Mallon said: "Today's announcement reflects the reality that, whatever differences that exist over the role and conduct of the RUC, many members of the RUC and their families have suffered greatly and demonstrated courage over many years.

"The award of the George Cross should be seen as recognition that the concerns of those who most value the RUC have been acknowledged and appreciated."

The Democratic Unionist Party has also offered its congratulations.

The DUP's Nigel Dodds said: "The award by Her Majesty, the Queen, of the George Cross to the RUC is a well deserved and appropriate recognition of the sacrifice and bravery of the police over many decades."

The Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Andrew Mackay, said: "We are delighted that the courageous and even-handed work of the RUC has been recognised by Her Majesty, the Queen, with the award of the George Cross.

"No organisation is more deserving of the George Cross than the RUC. During the past 30 years of the Troubles they have been the thin green line between anarchy and the rule of law."

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See also:
23 Nov 99 |  Northern Ireland
RUC awarded George Cross
09 Sep 99 |  Patten Report
Full coverage: The Patten Report
11 Oct 99 |  Northern Ireland
One million signatures sought for RUC
29 Oct 99 |  Northern Ireland
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