Royal Ulster Constabulary GC (Direct Recipient)

DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 1969-1999 Northern Ireland.

The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) was established on 1st June 1922, after the partition of Ireland. The nucleus of the Force was former members of the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) that had been disbanded at partition. Due to political agitation and violence the RUC had a dual security and civil policing role. It was therefore armed. As a result of civil disturbances in 1968/69, the Force was overstretched and the Army was called to assist.

Royal Ulster Constabulary GC

The Hunt report in 1970 made changes to policing in Northern Ireland, including new controls and rank structures, transfer of security moved back to the Police with Army support. The RUC also developed specialist units to deal with serious crime, public disorder, terrorism and community relations. 312 members of the RUC were killed in terrorist attacks (302 of them during the period 1969 to 1998, representing 9% of the total deaths due to “the troubles” in Northern Ireland). Over 10,000 officers were injured, some 300 being severely disabled. Deaths and injuries led to the introduction of unique Force welfare support systems.

RUC officers received 370 individual Gallantry Awards, 712 members received Sovereign’s Awards for Distinguished Service. 1183 families were forced to move house under threat. In 1999, the RUC was awarded the George Cross in recognition of the collective and sustained bravery of the Force, including its families. It then became the Royal Ulster Constabulary George Cross. The award was received by Constable Paul Slane on behalf of the RUC on 12th April 2000. Paul Slane lost both legs when an IRA bomb landed on his patrol car in Newry on 27th March 1992.

The “Patten Report” of 1999 recommended major changes to policing in Northern Ireland, including a change of the operational title to the “Police Service of Northern Ireland”. The change took place on 4th November 2001. The Royal Ulster Constabulary GC Foundation  was  established by virtue of the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000 for the purpose of “marking the sacrifice and honouring the achievements of the Royal Ulster Constabulary”.

On 9th March 2010, the political parties in Northern Ireland agreed that the responsibility for policing and justice functions should devolve to the Northern Ireland Assembly on 12th April 2010. During the period up to the date of devolution, the RUC GC Foundation was accountable to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. When policing and justice functions in Northern Ireland were devolved to the Northern Ireland Assembly on 12th April 2010, the Department of Justice was established as a new Northern Ireland Department by the Department of Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 2010.

From this date, the RUC GC Foundation became an executive Non Departmental Public Body (NDPB) of the Department of Justice. As such, it is now accountable to the Northern Ireland Minister of Justice.