A new £5.5m police museum will tell the stories of hundreds of men and women who served with the RUC at the height of the Troubles.
The project will replace the current museum in the grounds of PSNI Headquarters at Knock in Belfast, close to the police memorial garden.
Telling the story of policing across the island of Ireland — from the foundation of formal uniformed policing in 1814 to the present day — it is set to showcase a vast collection of policing artefacts, along with interviews with some 300 officers who served with the RUC.
Chair of the RUC George Cross Foundation Jim McDonald said that “a lot of people have been working hard on this project for a long time”.
“The allocation of a substantial budget direct from the Treasury is obviously crucial to the success of the project and we can now move on to the next stage,” he added. “There is every likelihood that we could have a state-of-the- art police museum in Belfast within three years,” he added.
According to the RUC GC, the material archived will be accessible to schools and universities.
“We have now done interviews with 300 men and women who served in the RUC GC, and we hope to have 350 recordings done by the end of the year,” said Mr McDonald.
“These are people who made history, bravely serving in the RUC, telling their story. It is one of the biggest oral history projects in the United Kingdom and it will be a unique collection of stories.”
The new museum will complement a similar display which is already established at Dublin Castle by An Garda Siochana.
Volunteers who have helped the RUC GC Foundation were recognised with an award from the Queen last year. A total of 57 people received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, helping to manage the memorial garden, act as tour guides and conduct interviews.
Jim McDonald said there was a “rich story to be told” regarding policing across Ireland.
“This has been an exciting time for the police family in Northern Ireland. We recognise the role and contribution policing has made to stability and peace in our society, as we celebrate 90 years of policing in this country,” he added.
Ulster Unionist policing spokesperson Ross Hussey welcomed the funding.
The West Tyrone MLA said: “The proposed site at PSNI Headquarters in Brooklyn in east Belfast is the most obvious place to tell the story of Policing in Northern Ireland, and the timing of the announcement — in this the 90th Anniversary of the foundation of the Royal Ulster Constabulary — is also most appropriate.”