Belfast Telegraph

Prince Charles and Theresa May fly in for RUC and PSNI tribute day

Deborah McAleese

The Prince of Wales has paid tribute to officers from the RUC and PSNI who were killed while on duty.

In Belfast yesterday for the 11th annual National Police Memorial Day service at the Waterfront Hall, Prince Charles said the officers made "enormous sacrifices" and that they are owed "an immense debt of gratitude."

The event's patron, he met with a number of families from across the UK whose loved ones had died. Among those to meet him were the wife and children of PSNI Constable Declan Greene (39) who was killed along with three colleagues when their patrol car crashed in Co Down six years ago.

Constable Greene and his colleagues Constable Kevin Declan Gorman (24), part-time Constable Kenneth Thomas Irvine (30) and Constable James Robert Bawn Magee (27), died after the vehicle exploded into flames when it skidded into a wall outside Warrenpoint in November 2008 while responding to a call. The officer's 11-year-old son Cormac led a prayer during the service for all those who had lost loves ones.

Prince Charles also met Iona Meyer whose husband, RUC Constable Gary Carl Meyer (34), was shot dead by the IRA in June 1990.

Mrs Meyer said the event was very important to her and all the other families who have lost loved ones: "There are very mixed emotions today. The event was very important.

"It meant we could come together to remember collectively the loss. I am absolutely delighted the Prince of Wales came and that I had a chance to talk to him," Mrs Meyer said.

PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton, First Minister Peter Robinson and Justice Minister David Ford also attended.

Mr Ford said that as the event was in Northern Ireland this year it was "particularly appropriate that we recall the service and sacrifice of officers in the Royal Irish Constabulary and the Royal Ulster Constabulary, George Cross."

He added: "We remember that since we last met in Belfast, Constables Ronan Kerr and Philippa Reynolds of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, and Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe of An Garda Síochána, have all died as a direct result of criminal activity on this island."

Mr Ford also said that police officers did not always get the credit they deserved.

"But on a day like today you remember the challenges that face police officers, you remember the difficulties and the dangers they put themselves through every day of their shifts. That applies in every part of the UK, but is obviously particularly acute in Northern Ireland."

Home Secretary Theresa May also attended the event, along with senior officers from across the United Kingdom and An Garda Síochána.

"Police officers go to work every day knowing that they could find themselves in danger, and sometimes they risk their very lives as they protect the public," Mrs May said.

She added: "We owe a debt of gratitude to officers across the country who show bravery as a matter of course and in many cases while they are off duty."

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