I am shocked and somewhat disgusted that an RUC/PSNI recruit chose to wear an IRA medal to his graduation ceremony. The recruit wore the War of Independence which honours IRA volunteers who fought the British in the Irish War of Independence, 1919-21.
I am disgusted because of the fact that men who were honoured with that medal, my own great-grandfather included, fought the British to secure a 32 democratic Irish republic. It is therefore insulting to their memories to wear such a medal when you are graduating from the RUC/PSNI.
The news has of course sent the Unionists into a tizzy, Fermanagh and South Tyrone Assembly member Tom Elliott claimed the wearing of the medal was offensive to police families who lost relatives following IRA attacks.
DUP MLA Arlene Foster said "It is quite simply offensive that a new police recruit should don a medal honouring the very terrorists who have murdered so many police officers through the years,"
The men who got that medal presented to them were soldiers who fought for this countries freedom. The only terrorists belong to the organisation that this recruit is now joining.
We had a Cead Bliain event recently back home and were lucky enough to get the 3 medals of that period. The first was the Fianna hÉireann medal that was awarded to those who served in it from 1909-1919. The second was the Easter rising medal and the third was the War of Independence medal. We also had the Na Fianna certificate signed by IRA chief of Staff Mulchachy and the Oglaigh one signed by Frank Aikan.
This is an important period in Irish history. I remember as a child been showed my own Great-grandfathers medal, at the time it didn't mean much because I didn't really understand. That same medal was presented to other families in my area who had relatives in the 4th Northern Division of the IRA.
This recruit should not sully these men’s good name and what they stood for by wearing such a medal to an RUC/PSNI graduation.