Patten Report: The RUC Victim - `Our sacrifices have been forgotten. It's an insult'

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"THIS HAS all been handled wrongly. It is insulting. It has left people wondering why they bothered to make the sacrifice."

Rosemary Craig's husband, Jim, almost made the ultimate sacrifice while serving as a Royal Ulster Constabulary officer: shot twice in the head by an IRA sniper, he somehow survived.

"Jim had curly hair that needed cutting and because of that his RUC cap was not on straight," said Mrs Craig, as she recalled the day in 1979 when her husband was lured to a house to deal with a reported burglary. "The snipers always aim for the band of the cap because that is usually the middle of the head. That is what saved him."

Although Mr Craig survived, for a year he could neither talk nor walk and was paralysed down the left side. Miraculously, he returned to work, taking up a position as an RUC transport manager. Now he has been told he is no longer wanted.

"They didn't even wait for the Patten Report, they just said he had to go by the end of September. They know they are going to lose numbers and people like Jim are more vulnerable," said Mrs Craig, whose husband is not allowed to speak to the press. "I wonder now how they are going to obtain this figure of 30 per cent Catholics. Are Protestants who apply going to be told, `No, sorry', whereas any Catholic who can breathe unaided will be given a job?"

Mrs Craig believes the reformers have forgotten the sacrifice of people such as her husband. She points out that 302 RUC officers have been killed and 10,000 injured on duty in the past 30 years. "You die for your country or are injured for it, but when you are injured they don't want to know. Now they are saying they are going to scrap the oath, scrap the badge and they are going to stop flying the Union flag. I don't understand that - it's the flag of the country."

She said she was horrified by the prospect of people she believes are responsible for violence being given a role overseeing the force. "We know the man who shot my husband. He was trained by the Palestinian Liberation Organisation and two days later he shot a soldier. He is still walking around the streets of Belfast. If someone like him was allowed into the force we would have to leave."

Mrs Craig insists that she is not against reform. A recent Phd dissertation she completed examined the under- representation of women in the RUC - something she wants changed. "But this has just left people wondering why they bothered," she said.

Andrew Buncombe