I have been made aware of your editorial of Tuesday 21st March published following the report condemning the Metropolitan Police for the standards of its behaviour and internal culture. The findings of this report are scandalous and leave no doubt that urgent reforms are required that must address, throughout all its structures, the deeply disturbing culture in its ranks and I fully support this as a Member of Parliament and believer in the rule of law.
I write to you because I condemn in the strongest terms possible your erroneous and scornfully insulting description of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) as being a ‘discredited’ force who set a ‘precedent’ for ‘reform’ and ‘replacement’ of policing structures. The RUC was never disbanded but subject to a process of transformation of name, badge and uniform whilst maintaining the same level of commitment to duty and rule of law carried out in Northern Ireland courageously since 1922. Your characterisation of the RUC is contemptuous of a fine and gallant body of men and women, 300 of whom were victims of terrorism, and dismissive of their unbending duty in protecting the people of Northern Ireland.
It is regretful in 2023 that the service and reputation of the RUC, along with the Unionist tradition itself, has to be continually defended against tactless, incorrect and dangerous narratives delivered under the full pressure of malicious and divisive propaganda, particularly from a media which reported acts of terrorist atrocities and murders of RUC members on a weekly basis in its own newspaper.
It was within a unique environment and unique circumstances that the men and women of the RUC were required to operate in addition to their regular duties. In this continuing climate of rhetoric and revisionism I have, and will, throughout my political life and beyond, challenge and condemn the distorters and twisters of the truth who attack and misrepresent the lost and surviving members of the RUC, and in even more forceful terms, I level my criticism at this community. Misrepresented yes – discredited or disgraced?...never.
I unequivocally state that the Government, and above all the people of Northern Ireland, have every reason to be proud of the proven exemplary professional standards, and above all the devotion to duty, of the Royal Ulster Constabulary.
In closing, I ask that a retraction of the statement be made on the same page of the paper on which this dangerous, disparaging and dishonest claim was made and I would appreciate a response indicating when the apology and retraction will be made.
Jim Shannon MP
Member of Parliament for Strangford