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DUP leader lays wreath to fallen as 50th anniversary of RUC reserve marked

Arlene Foster visited the police memorial garden at PSNI headquarters in Belfast where those killed were remembered.

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DUP leader Arlene Foster lays a wreath at the Royal Ulster Constabulary George Cross Foundation Memorial Garden (Liam McBurney/PA)

DUP leader Arlene Foster lays a wreath at the Royal Ulster Constabulary George Cross Foundation Memorial Garden (Liam McBurney/PA)

DUP leader Arlene Foster lays a wreath at the Royal Ulster Constabulary George Cross Foundation Memorial Garden (Liam McBurney/PA)

Arlene Foster has paid tribute to police officers as she marked the 50th anniversary of the founding of the part time reserve force.

The DUP leader was speaking during a visit to the police memorial garden at PSNI headquarters in Belfast.

She took part in a service attended by PSNI Deputy Chief Constable Mark Hamilton, Mark Lindsay, chair of the Police Federation in Northern Ireland, and Stephen White, of the RUC George Cross Foundation.

The part time reserves were set up in 1970 at the start of the conflict in Northern Ireland to support the regular RUC members in response to the growing threat from paramilitaries.

Fifty-two part time reserve officers died and hundreds suffered physical and psychological injuries during their service.

Nine were killed after they left the service.

Mrs Foster laid a wreath in memory of the fallen and paid tribute to those who continue to serve.

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L-R Deputy Chief Constable Mark Hamilton, RUC GC Foundation Chairman Stephen White, DUP leader Arlene Foster and DUP MLA and Policing Board member Mervyn Storey, at the Royal Ulster Constabulary Memorial Garden at PSNI Headquarters on Knock Road in Belfast, after paying tribute to mark 50th anniversary of the RUC Reserve. PA Photo. Picture date: Monday June 01, 2020. See PA story ULSTER Reservists. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

L-R Deputy Chief Constable Mark Hamilton, RUC GC Foundation Chairman Stephen White, DUP leader Arlene Foster and DUP MLA and Policing Board member Mervyn Storey, at the Royal Ulster Constabulary Memorial Garden at PSNI Headquarters on Knock Road in Belfast, after paying tribute to mark 50th anniversary of the RUC Reserve. PA Photo. Picture date: Monday June 01, 2020. See PA story ULSTER Reservists. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

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L-R Deputy Chief Constable Mark Hamilton, RUC GC Foundation Chairman Stephen White, DUP leader Arlene Foster and DUP MLA and Policing Board member Mervyn Storey, at the Royal Ulster Constabulary Memorial Garden at PSNI Headquarters on Knock Road in Belfast, after paying tribute to mark 50th anniversary of the RUC Reserve. PA Photo. Picture date: Monday June 01, 2020. See PA story ULSTER Reservists. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

“Nine thousand people have served but unfortunately some of them gave their lives for all of the people of Northern Ireland and I think it is very important we mark that,” she said.

“We also thank those who continue to serve in the part time reserves because we know they do a lot of very good work across Northern Ireland and we’re very proud of them.”
Earlier, Mr Lindsay said the part time police reservists are “owed a deep debt of gratitude”.

“They knew that by putting on the uniform they would become a target for terrorists,” he said.

“It is a measure of their courage and commitment that they stepped forward to serve during dark and dreadful days.

“These brave officers had day jobs and were then prepared to turn out for their shift as part time reserve officers. We owe them a deep debt of gratitude.

“The 50th anniversary of the part time reserve, which became part of the Royal Ulster Constabulary on June 1 1970, is an occasion to reflect on the service they gave and the losses they suffered”.

Mr Lindsay added: “Today, the part time reserve is a small part of the PSNI with just 245 officers and the organisation is looking at a more defined role for them within the new neighbourhood policing approach.”

PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne paid tribute to serving officers and those who had lost their lives.

He said he also remembered the many hundreds more who suffered physical and mental injuries, often life-changing.

PA