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Last Updated: Monday, 2 October 2006, 12:23 GMT 13:23 UK
Orde criticised over memorial day
Hugh Orde
Sir Hugh Orde was at a charity event
Northern Ireland's chief constable has been criticised for not attending a service in Belfast to remember police officers killed in the line of duty.

Sunday's event in the Waterfront Hall marked National Police Memorial Day.

However, PSNI chief constable Sir Hugh Orde was taking part in the Great North Run on Tyneside in aid of the RUC George Cross Widows Association.

Jimmy Spratt, DUP, said his absence was an "insult" to the PSNI adding that Mr Orde "should hang his head in shame".

Mr Spratt, a former official of the Police Federation said: "If anyone is telling me that a marathon is more important than being with the folks there yesterday, I say it was disgraceful and it was an insult to the Police Service of Northern Ireland."

Mr Spratt said the chief constable's place should have been "at that memorial service... given that the police service he now heads lost 302 police officers in the Royal Ulster Constabulary".

He added: "Sir Hugh should most certainly have been there. I don't think a marathon is anything to be going to or has more importance than the service that took place yesterday afternoon.

"His place should have been with those widows yesterday and the families of those who lost their loved ones, who paid the supreme sacrifice over many years in British policing. No only that, but also officers that he served with within the Metropolitan police, who lost their lives."

Metropolitan Police recruits
More than 4,000 officers have died on duty since policing began

The Police Service of Northern Ireland confirmed Sir Hugh had been taking part in the Great North run.

About 4,000 UK officers have died on duty since the first police was set up.

During Sunday's service, Northern Ireland Security Minister Paul Goggins said it was a very important occasion for all those in the policing community.

The chairman of the Northern Ireland Policing Board, Professor Sir Desmond Rea, said it was particularly significant that the service was taking place in Northern Ireland as more than 300 officers had lost their lives there.

Church of Ireland Primate, Archbishop Robin Eames, read a message from the Prince of Wales, who was unable to attend because of a previously agreed engagement.

The service was attended by Noel Conroy, the Commissioner of the Republic of Ireland's police force, the Garda.

The British government was represented by the Home Secretary John Reid.

The first service was held in St Paul's and last year it took place in Cardiff.

Police remember fallen officers
07 Sep 06 |  London
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