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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 December 2006, 12:30 GMT
RUC police shirts decommissioned
The RUC uniform
The old Royal Ulster Constabulary uniform with pale green shirt
Somewhere, in deepest, darkest Romania, the locals are wearing the green - the old, Royal Ulster Constabulary police green.

Thousands of Northern Ireland's old police shirts are being sent out to Romania to be distributed by a local church charity.

The green RUC shirts were decommissioned in 2001, under the Patten reforms when the RUC became the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

A church charity received thousands of them and was wondering who would launder them prior to despatch to Romania.

They approached Magilligan Prison in County Derry and asked for their help.

Now prisoners who, in past times, came up close and personal to the same shirts - only with officers inside - clean, press and pack them, ready for the journey to Romania.

Prison governor Tom Woods said they were happy to help good causes.

He told daily newspaper, The Irish News: "Magilligan prison is involved in a number of projects for the benefit of the community and local charities.

"If we can help any disadvantaged group by making use of articles discarded by another organisation, then we are more than happy to do so."

RUC uniform items have appeared on the eBay internet auction site. Some of them are highly desirable to collectors.

However, the standard issue shirt has no distinctive features, making it less of a draw.

The shirts are washed and ironed by prisoners in Magilligan's open prison at Foyle House before they are sent on to Romania for distribution.

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