Ulster Unionist Leader, Steve Aiken OBE MLA, said:
“The decision of the Irish Government to defer its commemoration of the Royal Irish Constabulary and Dublin Metropolitan Police is disappointing, but not surprising given the tone of the debate and the language used by some of the leaders and elected representatives of political parties in the Republic of Ireland.
“It exposed a direct and underlying contradiction to their previous public statements about reconciliation. The comments coming from Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein representatives were deeply regrettable and will further affirm the view among many unionists in Northern Ireland that there are many within the Republic of Ireland who continue to hold a deep animosity against anyone or any organisation linked to ‘the Brits’.
“Describing members of the Royal Irish Constabulary as ‘colonialists’ and ‘oppressors’ when the vast majority of these men came from the island of Ireland, and served their communities with dedication, is an insult to their memory and their descendants. These types of comments do nothing to build reconciliation and demonstrate that some elements of society with the Republic of Ireland remain openly hostile to the British identity or those perceived to be associated with it.
“This hostility will not be lost on Unionists who are the subject of repeated entreaties to consider embracing Irish unity and who are constantly assured that all would be well. Actions really do speak louder than words.”