The RUC Crest
The Royal Ulster Constabulary George Cross
The George Cross

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The Queen's Speech at the Presentation of the George Cross

"I am pleased to be here today on this historic occasion, to present the award of the George Cross to the Royal Ulster Constabulary. This award is an exceptional recognition of the outstanding contribution made by the RUC to peace in Northern Ireland. It is a singular acknowledgement of the gallantry and courage shown and in all too many cases, the ultimate sacrifice paid by the members of the Constabulary during the past 30 years of terrorism and civil unrest. I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to all members of the RUC - the regular officers of all ranks, the members of the full-time and part-time Reserve, and former members who have served so loyally over the years. I salute your courage and your sense of duty. I admire your determination to maintain the rule of law, and to provide a police service for all the people during some of the most difficult times in the history of this Province.

A terrible price has been paid for this brave and resolute stand.

We remember today the 302 officers who have lost their lives, and also the many thousands who have been injured, some very seriously, at the hands of terrorists. Their sacrifice must never be forgotten. I also pay tribute to the part played by other, often unsung heroes. It has simply not been possible for officers' families to enjoy normal lives. Today's award recognises the very special contribution made by these families they have been a constant source of support, and have had to endure fear, intimidation and, worst of all, the pain of bereavement.

The award also recognises the important part played by civilian colleagues of RUC officers and the Police Authority. And of course the RUC have for many years worked alongside the armed forces who themselves have shown that same character of duty we are recognising today.

Due in no small measure to the bravery and dedication over the years of the men and women of the Royal Ulster Constabulary: Northern Ireland is now a much more peaceful and stable place in which to live. I hope and trust that the enmities of the past can be laid to rest in a wav that fully recognises the sacrifices made. I know it is clear to you, as it is to me, that there will be challenges to face in the period of change that lies ahead. I am confident that you will maintain that sense of duty and dedication which is being honoured today. I know also that will have my support and prayers in the future as the dogged and relentless search for lasting peace continues"

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