Honouring ”the steadfast service” of RUC officers and dedicated especially to those who lost their lives in the line of duty, the plaque (pictured)features a refurbished RUC crest, formerly fixed to the outside wall of a police station.
Permanently mounted in First Rathfriland Presbyterian Church, it will be unveiled and dedicated on Sunday (October 26) at a 3pm ceremony organised by the Banbridge/South Down branch of the RUC George Cross Association, who commissioned the plaque.
Mounted on a granite base and bearing the inscription - ‘Erected to the glory of God and to honour the sacrifice of the Royal Ulster Constabulary GC and especially the memory of those who made the supreme sacrifice, 1922-2001’ - the plaque is the second of its type to be given pride of place within local churches, the first having been mounted in Seapatrick Parish Church, Banbridge.
A spokesperson said: “It is intended to serve as a lasting reminder not only of the terrible price that some officers paid in carrying out their duty but also the daily risk that every member of the force, both full-time and reserve, accepted to uphold the law in some of Northern Ireland’s darkest days.”
Included on the plaque is a passage of scripture - ‘Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you’ - from the Gospel of St John.
More than 300 officers lost their lives during the Troubles and more than 9,000 were injured doing what has been described as one of the toughest and most dangerous policing jobs in the world.
The sacrifice of the force was acknowledged in April 2000 when the RUC was awarded the George Cross, the highest civilian honour for courage in the face of extreme danger and an award presented only once previously for collective bravery - to the island of Malta for its wartime resistance to Nazi invasion.
The spokesperson said: “Anyone who wishes to pay tribute to the RUC’s 80 years of unstinting service is welcome to attend the service on October 26, which will be conducted by Rev Trevor Boyd and attended by the Lord Lieutenant for Co Down, Mr David Lindsay, and other local dignitaries.”