Police officers unite for church service

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POLICE officers from across the world attended the Ninth Annual Royal Ulster Constabulary George Cross provincial church service in Terrace Row Presbyterian Church, Coleraine on Sunday.

Senior Officers from the FBI, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Australian Federal Police, New Zealand Police, An Garda Siochana and a number of GB Forces joined members of the extended Northern Ireland police family at the Service which was conducted by the Minister, Very Revd. Dr. David Clarke, assisted by Senior Clergy from the four largest denominations in Northern Ireland.

Members of the Victoria Cross and George Cross Association also travelled from all over Britain to take part in the interdenominational service where the address was given by the Rev. Paul Kingston, President of the Methodist Church in Ireland.

But most of the 800 strong congregation was made up of widows, parents and relatives of deceased RUC GC officers, as well as disabled and retired members

Dignitaries included the Lord Lieutenant for County Londonderry, Denis Desmond, Justice Minister, David Ford; Minister of State at the NIO, Hugo Swire, Chief Constable Matt Baggott and Senior PSNI officers, Chairman of the Policing Board, Brian Rea; The United States Consul General, Lady Sylvia Hermon, MP and the Marquess of Salisbury, Patron of the RUCGC Associations.

The provincial service is an annual event held in a different County each year. It is organised by the RUC George Cross Foundation which was established under Section 70 of the Police (NI) Act 2000 to “mark the sacrifices and honour the achievements of the Royal Ulster Constabulary”

The Foundation has as its Patron H.R.H.The Prince of Wales.

Between 1922 and 2001, RUC GC officers received 370 individual bravery awards; a further 712 officers received Sovereign’s Awards for distinguished service. 312 officers were killed through terrorism and over 10,000 injured, of whom some 300 are seriously disabled.