AN RUC officer who was in charge of Portadown Police station in Edward Street during the worst days of the Troubles has died.
Charles Rodgers (89), who ended his career as Deputy Chief Constable, was awarded the MBE in July 1973, the OBE in June 1977, and he was the holder of the RUC Service Medal.
Mr Rodgers was Chief Superintendant in Portadown during an intense litany of bombings and murders – his ‘patch’ included the large hinterland around the town.
Not only did he cover the town and the so-called ‘murder triangle’ in the area, but he was in charge of investigations like the Kingsmills massacre when 10 Protestant workers were gunned down by the IRA, and of the Miami Showband when three members of the band and two of the bombers perished.
The RUC barracks at Edward Street were an important police HQ in those days, where Mr Rodgers’ colleagues included officers like Sam Harkness, George Jackson, Brian Houston and Drew Coid, who died earlier this year.
Mr Rodgers, who was an RUC officer for 40 years, hailed originally from Letterkenny in County Donegal. The family moved the short distance across the border to Londonderry where he planned to work as a clerk in one of the factories in the city’s then thriving shirt industry.
That was in 1942 during World War Two when his first posting was to Warrenpoint, a town where thousands of America soldiers were billeted. He came to Portadown via Belfast, Newtownards, Clougher, Derrylinn, Omagh and Lurgan.
He was a no-nonsense RUC man, his policy being a two-way loyalty to his officers, and he remained in close contact with the community, despite his high rank and the ever-present risk of the Troubles.
Highly professional, he went on to become Assistant Chief Constable to Sir John Hermon, but he had a strained relationship with Sir John over the so-called ‘shoot to kill’ controversy of unarmed IRA men in County Armagh.
Mr Rodgers retired in 1982, his wife Ellen passed away in 1995, and he leaves two sons, Henry and Michael, and seven grandchildren.
The funeral was yesterday (Thursday) at Bushmills Presbyterian Church in North Antrim.