Belfast Telegraph

Home Woman Life

Relatively Speaking: Jim and Rosemary Craig

We ask personalities about the special family relationships in their lives

Jim Craig served in the RUC from 1969 until being badly wounded in a gun attack 10 years later. He lives near Belfast with wife Rosemary. Between them they have three children. Ahead of Remembrance Day they tell their story

Name: Jim Craig Age: 64

Occupation: Civil servant

Relationship: Husband of Rosemary

The night I was shot, I was working as a sergeant, stationed in south Belfast. I was light on constables that evening. I had exactly four – one was doing station security, one was the duty officer and the other two went out on calls.

I happened to find another constable in the station – he had come in to do some paperwork but I commandeered him to come out with me.

We did the first couple of calls and then went to an alleged burglary in south Belfast. I went up to the front door, knocked, and was shot twice in the head from across the street. The gunman had taken an 80-year-old man hostage and shot from his house.

When it first happened, I drifted in and out of consciousness. I can remember certain things, a siren in the distance and the green of my colleague's shirt. Initially, though, I was paralysed and blinded.

I was discharged from hospital after a week because they could do nothing more for me but I had to do a lot of rehabilitation, learning to walk again and talk, as my speech was slurred. My memories were jumbled, and still are sometimes.

I was back at work a year later as a transport manager for the RUC. Nobody has ever been caught for the shooting; the rifle used was recovered sometime afterwards and it had been used in several previous murders.

I've been more emotional since the shooting. I also don't take to people nagging and telling me what to do. Because of that my first marriage broke down.

Rosemary and I met in 1986 when I approached her on behalf of the Disabled Police Officers Association (DPOA), of which I was a member. She was working for the Anderson & McAuley department store and I was looking for ballot prizes to raise funds.

We didn't get married until 1991 – we'd both been down that road before, but we've travelled the world together since then. Rosemary and I are best friends, I think you only survive in a relationship if you're friends with your partner."

--

Name: Rosemary Craig Occupation: Law lecturer

Relationship: Wife of Jim

I met the tall, good-looking senior police officer in 1986 through what was the love of my life – the law. I had recently finished reading for the Bar of Northern Ireland and was on a high after six years of very punishing study.

I was employed as legal adviser and director of advertising at Anderson & McAuley and I loved my job. The owners were most generous and I was constantly being asked to help out different charities. I had never heard of the Disabled Police Officers Association, and when I was asked to provide something for their raffle my life took a different turn.

Jim invited me to a barbecue at St Patrick's Barracks in Ballymena for the DPOA, in return – he said – for providing a ballot prize. When I entered the room my abiding memory is of a group of the happiest people I have ever met. However, when you looked behind the laughter you saw the most atrocious injuries ever encountered.

I had colleagues and friends killed and maimed because they were members of the security forces. My cousin, a police superintendent, was killed in 1994, in the Chinook disaster.

I had an only child, a son born in 1968 who left Northern Ireland in 1986 to read law at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. He has never returned home, and that is a matter of deep regret to me.

All of this was put into perspective for me at that barbecue in 1986. There were people there who had lost two or three limbs, some who had lost their hearing and sight and were left in a silent and dark world. Others had lost their minds and their families, which were torn apart.

I noted that one of the badly injured former officers was sitting in a lightweight red wheelchair. I was told that the disabled would have to purchase these themselves and they could not afford them. I vowed to raise the finance to buy 12 of these chairs. Thereby commenced a love affair involving the DPOA – and one officer in particular.

A force that paid a heavy price

More than 300 police officers were killed in the Troubles, and nearly 9,000 injured

The Disabled Police Officers Association was founded in 1983 by officers injured in the Troubles. The organisation was awarded charitable status in 1989

The DPOA now has 240 members who have received injuries both from the troubles and while carrying out normal policing duties. Support is also available for the spouses and dependents of members in the form of anything from home visits to computer training

For details on the Association, visit www.dpoani.org

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph