The off-duty constable, Gregory Taylor, died outside a bar in Ballymoney, County Antrim, at the weekend. His killing was yesterday condemned in the Commons by Tony Blair who said he abhorred it as random vicious violence.
The four men, all from Ballymoney, who appeared at North Antrim magistrates' court yesterday were charged with murder and affray. They all the charges and were remanded in custody until 20 June.
Among them was Leslie Thomas Henry, 30, a plasterer, the son of an RUC reservist. The others were Alistair Samuel Stevenson, 30, a process worker; Mark McIntyre, 27, a civil servant; and Samuel James Coulter, 30, a cleaner.
Mr Taylor's death, which followed an argument about the RUC's role in keeping an Orange march out of a nearby Catholic village, increased fears of a repeat of last year's marching season. However, in a move seen as heartening, the Order's Portadown district has written to 1,500 Catholics in Garvaghy Road, the focus of last year's violence, saying it hoped to avoid trouble this year.