Thousands gather for moving tribute to slain police officers
THE Church of Ireland Primate Archbishop Robin Eames brought greetings from Prince Charles to a service marking National Police Memorial Day in the Waterfront Hall, Belfast yesterday.
He told an audience of policemen and their relatives that the Prince had expressed his pride at becoming Patron of the National Police Memorial Day and had expressed his regret at not being able to attend the service personally.
Prince Charles stated, in his message conveyed by the Archbishop, that the valour of those officers who died on duty should be an inspiration to everyone.
He said: "Today is one of mixed emotions - of agonising sadness - but of enormous pride in the British Police Service, and of the officers who make it as special and as admired as it is."
The Archbishop said that people in Northern Ireland knew from their own experiences the burden that is still carried by many police families.
"It is only at times of tragic death, or on occasions such as today, that we pause to consider the price which policemen and women too often pay.
"Class or creed, colour or background are irrelevant. Death is death and murder is murder."
The Archbishop said that in Northern Ireland memories can be negative.
He added: "They can be something else. They can be the spring-board for hope, gratitude and vision, and for moving on, but society cannot be allowed to move on, unaffected by the tragedies we recall at this moment. There must never be a 'taking for granted' or a failure to thank God for such public service, and there must never be an accepted level of criminality."