Belfast Telegraph

Thousands pay tribute to police killed in line of duty

By Aine Fox

The role of the police is especially important amid the security challenges of today, the Prince of Wales has said, as around 2,000 people gathered to remember the lives of officers killed in the line of duty.

Relatives and colleagues joined with dignitaries including Home Secretary Amber Rudd at the National Police Memorial Day service in London commemorating those who have served across the UK.

Family members who lost loved ones offered prayers and lit candles in their honour, and the names of those who have died in the past year were read aloud to the congregation in St Paul's Cathedral.

During the event, Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire met with the family of RUC Reserve Constable William Wallace Allen, who was abducted by paramilitaries while off duty as he drove his milk lorry in Newtownhamilton in 1980. He was shot dead, aged 49. Alice Fisher, his granddaughter, read one of the prayers at yesterday's service.

And one of the candles was lit by Andrea Irvine, the widow of part-time PSNI Constable Kenneth Thomas Irvine (30) from Kilkeel. He had been in the force just two years when he and three other officers died when their patrol vehicle skidded into a wall outside Warrenpoint and exploded into flames in November 2008 while responding to a call.

Mr Brokenshire said yesterday's event was a "powerful and poignant service remembering and honouring officers who lost their lives on duty".

Prince Charles, who is patron of National Police Memorial Day, paid tribute to those he said had "paid the ultimate sacrifice while safeguarding our families, our communities and our liberty".

In the order of service, he wrote: "For many of us, the security challenges of today further underscore the importance of the police and their ongoing commitment to protecting us all, despite the inevitable risks that they face on a daily basis."

Among those to be specially remembered was PC Dave Phillips who was knocked down and killed by a teenage car thief in October last year. His eight-year-old daughter Abigail lit a candle to remember the 34-year-old who died after he set down a tyre-puncturing stinger device in a bid to stop a stolen vehicle in Wallasey, Merseyside.

Relatives of other officers killed in the line of duty represented Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland as they too lit candles and offered prayers.

Stormont Justice Minister Claire Sugden was among those gathered.

"It is an honour to attend the National Police Memorial Day service to pay tribute to the sacrifice of police officers from across the United Kingdom who have died while serving and protecting their local communities.

"Today will be especially poignant for the families, friends and colleagues of those who have died and my thoughts are with them all," she said. "I was touched to hear the personal stories of some of the officers honoured today.

"In particular, I commend the bravery and service of the officers of the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the Police Service of Northern Ireland. I would like to express my gratitude to all police officers for their dedication and commitment.

"Northern Ireland can justifiably be proud of the courage and professionalism of its police officers, often in the face of challenging and hazardous circumstances."

Continuing, the Minister said: "This is a significant day in our calendar when we can stand with those who mourn and remember. My thoughts and prayers are with all those in the policing family who have lost a loved one throughout the years."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph