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Sinn Féin to challenge use of Plastic Bullets

4 September, 2009 - by Maeve McLaughlin

Sinn Fein MLA and member of the Policing Board Martina Anderson has stated the use of plastic bullets should never have occurred and such a use has breached the guidelines set by the PSNI themselves for their deployment. Ms Anderson has secured a dedicated meeting to deal with their use in Ardoyne and the Short Strand on the 13th of July and the 30th of August respectively.

Speaking today Ms Anderson said:

“There are increasing concerns regarding the use of plastic bullets both in Ardoyne and the Short Strand in the past two months. Their use signals to me an increased acceptance by the PSNI that the firing of these deadly and indiscriminate weapons is the norm.

“Their recent deployment flies in the face of public comments by the Former Chief Constable Hugh Orde that plastic bullets 'will not be used for the purposes of public order/crowd control', and would only be used ‘where the only alternative would be the use of live rounds’. On top of this the ACC Duncan McCausland has stated that they were not used as crowd control on the two nights in question.

“This is clearly contradicted by residents of Ardoyne who state that plastic bullets were fired into the crowd that was present on the 13th of August and does not in any way answer why no water cannon were deployed on the interface of the Short Strand and Albertbridge Road as an alternative.

“In the latter case the alternative of water cannon was not even examined or exhausted by a test deployment of the cannons. How can the PSNI credibly say that they tried all alternatives and plastic bullets were the only option?

“Sinn Féin have secured a dedicated meeting with the ACC to raise these concerns. We cannot allow the firing of these lethal weapons that have been discredited by international agencies such as the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and the UN Committee against Torture and have a long a devastating history within the north of Ireland." ENDS

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