RUC deputy head to take control of key operations

 

MR Ronnie Flanagan, a recently appointed Deputy Chief Constable of the RUC, is to take charge of the key area of force operations from the beginning of next month.

One of his first tasks will be to liaise with the North's Police Authority, which, it was reported yesterday, has issued a number of recommendations aimed at making the force more acceptable to nationalists.

Mr Flanagan will be in charge of special branch and criminal investigations, and will also have responsibility for dealing with the Northern Ireland Office.

One of his first functions in relation to the Police Authority will be to consider its community consultation report, which will be published today.

The report is expected to deal with matters such as a possible name change for the RUC, the oath of allegiance to the British crown and the flying of the Union Jack outside police stations.

The report suggests that the force's title should be "RUC Northern Ireland Police Service", according to yesterday's Irish News. The paper also reported that recruits would have the option of an alternative to the oath of allegiance which would not mention the British queen.

The report will be formally published this morning by the authority's new chairman, Mr Pat Armstrong, who in controversial circumstances recently replaced Mr David Cook.

Mr Cook and Mr Chris Ryder, a fellow member of the authority, were sacked by the Northern Secretary, Sir Patrick Mayhew, after they lost the confidence of a majority of the body's members.

Mr Flanagan, a former head of the RUC's special branch, is replacing Mr Blair Wallace, the RUC's other Deputy Chief Constable, who moves to the area of support services.

Mr Flanagan was promoted to Deputy Chief Constable last month, having served in the role in an acting capacity for over a year. His appointment places him at the "cutting edge" of the RUC's antiparamilitary operations, and potentially in line eventually to succeed the Chief Constable, Sir Hugh Annesley.

Mr Freddie Hall, who was in charge of police operations during the so called Siege of Drumcree last July, is being appointed Assistant Chief Constable with responsibility for the south region of Down, Armagh and Fermanagh.

Chief Supt Tom Craig, a former divisional commander in Derry and a senior officer in the RUC press office, has been appointed acting assistant chief constable for the north region of Antrim, Derry and Tyrone.