HOME . On March 26, 2001, The Belfast Telegraph published the following letter on its editorial page. The image of the phoenix in the letter also inspired the poem "The Righteous Man."

The Editors
The Belfast Telegraph
124-144 Royal Avenue
Belfast BT1 1EB
Northern Ireland, United Kingdom

Dear Friends:

As a friend and admirer of Oversight Commissioner Tom Constantine and the descendant of a member of the Royal Irish Constabulary who was so proud of his affiliation that it is inscribed on his gravestone in County Waterford, I have taken a keen interest in the progress of the implementation of the Patten Reforms.

The Royal Ulster Constabulary is the descendant of my great-grandfather's old outfit so I care about what happens to it and I'm not happy about the role that politics have imposed on it in your society any more than my great grandfather was about what politics turned the RIC into in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.

I have been fortunate; I've lived all my life in communities where the police were not dragged into such entanglements -- entanglements that drove a wedge between them and those in the community who most need to be able to trust them.

Much as I would like to be, I am not there with Professor Constantine overseeing and certifying the reform. But I would like to offer, as a small contribution, my suggestion on how to bury one of the bones of contention.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland needs a new emblem -- one that is not associated with the past. Let me commend to you the Phoenix, the magical bird that arises reborn out of the ashes of the conflagration.

Yours truly,

Terry O'Neill visits the former barracks of the Royal Irish Constabulary in Stradbally, County Waterford. His great grandfather, Constable William Stephens, RIC, was posted to this station at the end of the 19th Century. In 1922, the RIC, which had become discredited, hated and feared by the Irish people, was disbanded to a man in a formal ceremony in Dublin's Phoenix Park. Shortly thereafter, the Garda Siochana na h'Eireann -- the Guardians of the Peace of Ireland -- was organized and has served with honor and distinction ever since.

tyger jumping through hoop

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