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An Garda Síochána considered place for RUC in force's museum as part of Decade of Centenaries

The proposal was one of a number of considerations put forward by the force last year.

RUC officers on patrol in Belfast (file photo)
RUC officers on patrol in Belfast (file photo)
Image: PA

GARDAÍ CONSIDERED INCLUDING mention of the disbanded Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) in the force’s museum as part of a development for the Decade of Centenaries.

Records released from the Department of Justice under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that gardaí discussed the possibility at a meeting of the Planning Committee for the Decade of Centenaries Commemorative Programme last year.

Gardaí were invited to the meeting, which was held at the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, to discuss how to mark the foundation of An Garda Síochána in 1922.

An invitation sent by the Department of Justice and Equality said the input of gardaí was being sought to help remember “this very complex period in our history”.

“The State’s objective is to ensure that we promote a deeper understanding of the significance of these events, which respectfully remembers all of those who suffered and who died, and accepts that the shared historical experience of those years gave rise to very different narratives and memories,” it read.

“Of particular interest are the foundation of An Garda Síochána with particular consideration to initiatives to commemorate the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) and Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP) and to acknowledge their place in history.”

Last month, the government drew heavy criticism over plans to hold a since-cancelled commemorative event for the RIC and DMP, the two precursors to An Garda Síochána.

But in an email to the department after the 23 July meeting, a senior official at Garda headquarters outlined a number of proposals that the force was considering.

The possibilities put forward included the further development of the Garda Museum in Dublin Castle “with a particular focus on the commemorative period”.

This would include a place for the RIC, the DMP and a focus on the two forces in the North since partition, the RUC and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

The RUC was long accused by those from nationalist communities of discrimination, before it was renamed and reformed into the PSNI in 2001.

A 2007 report by the North’s Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan found that members of the force colluded with loyalist paramilitaries in several murders, including with several informants working for the Special Branch.

However, it is estimated that more than 300 officers were killed and over 9,000 injured during the force’s existence, the vast majority of them during The Troubles.

Asked whether ordinary members of the force would support plans to create a focus on the RUC in the Garda Museum, a spokesman for the Garda Representative Association (GRA) told TheJournal.ie that it would not be able to comment fully until it received a more firm proposal.

“The GRA recently participated in a commemorative service in Belfast for police North and South at the invitation of the Police Federation of Northern Ireland,” a statement read.

“We are amenable to events of this nature.”

In a statement, a garda spokeswoman told TheJournal.ie that the force is still at the initial stages of developing a centenary programme.

“An Garda Síochána is mindful of the guidance provided by the Independent Expert Advisory Group on Centenary Commemoration,” the force said.

“The Garda Museum and Archive will feature in the organisation’s centenary programme.”

Other proposals suggested by An Garda Siochána included a commemorative event to mark the centenary of the force’s foundation and re-enacting the handover of Dublin Castle.

It was also suggested that historic photos and documents could be digitised for public access, that an oral history of the force could be created, and that An Garda could acquire a selection of iconic Garda vehicles which it used over the course of the last century.

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