Belfast Telegraph

Charles tribute to 'noble' policing

The Prince of Wales has said British policing is a noble profession which is admired throughout the world.

He is patron of the National Police Memorial Day, which remembers almost 4,000 officers killed on duty.

Thousands of police from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland attended the service, which moves around the UK and this year was held in the Waterfront Hall in Belfast.

Home Secretary Theresa May also took part in the event.

Charles wrote a message to those present.

It said: "The British police service is a noble profession, respected and admired throughout the world.

"The courageous men and women who proudly form its ranks are a shining example of the best of public service, embodying the values that we, as a nation, hold dear.

"Day after day they place our safety above that of their own in order that we may live in peace, with the rule of law upheld."

He also paid tribute to the "enormous sacrifices" made by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and its successor the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

"We owe them an immense debt of gratitude."

Among those present were the family of constable Yvonne Fletcher, 25, the Metropolitan Police officer who was shot dead outside the Libyan Embassy in London during a protest against the Gaddafi regime on April 17 1984. Nobody has ever been brought to justice. This year marks the 30th anniversary of her death.

Her sister Heather Allbrook lit a candle for the police forces of England, one of four representing each of the four nations of the UK.

She said: "For their bravery and fortitude, we will remember them."

The Home Secretary said this was a particularly poignant time for the family of Constable Fletcher.

"Of course work continues by the Metropolitan Police to try to ensure that they can get to the truth of who was responsible for Yvonne Fletcher's murder.

"Obviously it was very nice to be able to speak to Yvonne's sister who took part in the service today and particularly significant that she was able to do that and play her part in this memorial, which matters not just to her and her family but to all the families of police who have lost their lives in the line of duty."

She said it was always particularly significant to have the event in Belfast.

"Over the years police in Northern Ireland have seen so many officers lost in the line of duty and they have carried on doing their work and I think it is great to see police officers here, the PSNI and other police forces across Scotland, England and Wales continuing to do their duty, continuing to keep the people safe."

The service began with a processional from the Pipes and Drums of the PSNI.

Stormont justice minister David Ford remembered PSNI constable Ronan Kerr, killed by dissident republicans opposed to the peace process, PSNI constable Philippa Reynolds and detective garda Adrian Donohue of An Garda Siochana who died in Ireland north and south.

He said: "We take time to publicly recognise and pay tribute to the courage, commitment, service and sacrifices they gave to their colleagues and communities."

Church of Ireland Bishop Harold Miller said every loss of life represented during the service was equally important.

"It is a loss of someone of unestimable value, made in the image of God with family, relatives, friends and neighbours, who loved that particular person, someone who has been taken from them and has had taken from them the gift of life, the most precious gift of all.

"Every memory is personal and every person we remember there is someone who knows their names and holds them in their hearts."

Prayers were led by Brian Goodman, father of Special Constable Glenn Goodman from North Yorkshire Police, shot dead by the IRA in 1992, Cormac Greene, 11, son of part time PSNI police officer Declan Greene who died in a road crash in Northern Ireland, and PSNI chief superintendent Nigel Grimshaw.

An act of remembrance by the Reverend Canon David Wilbraham, national police chaplain, marked the loss of police officers during the First World War.

A piper's lament was played then a wreath laid by Sergeant Joe Holness to the First World War dead. Sgt Holness founded the commemoration 11 years ago,

The names of nine officers who died during the last year were read out then petals of remembrance representing all who lost their lives descended from the gallery.

The National Police Memorial Day Orchestra played Abide With Me and the Last Post was sounded and flags of Britain, the PSNI and the George Cross Foundation representing the RUC lowered.

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