The following was sent by the Troops Out Movement relating to the continuing availability and use of the plastic bullet with its legacy of killing and maiming civilians by police. The officer in charge justified their use. His view that innocent bystanders, including children and young people is disputed by commentators, some whom were present.
Letter from Jim McCabe husband of Nora, who was murdered by the RUC with a Plastic Bullet
For over 30 years, in the north of Ireland, we watched while our children, wives, and husbands were slaughtered and maimed with plastic bullets fired by the British Army and RUC (police).
The families campaigned relentlesslythroughout the world to have these lethal weapons banned.
Every major Human Rights group in Europe and the USA supported our call.
We were promised a new beginning with a reformed police service with emphasis put on respect for human rights and new policing methods.
In 2004, Jane Kennedy, the then security minister promised the phasing out of plastic bullets by Christmas 2005. What she did’nt say was that they would be replaced by another type of plastic bullet.
In January 2007 Chief Constable Hugh Orde expressed his regret at the loss of life by plastic bullets and reaffirmed the innocence of those killed especially the children. He also stated he did not intend to use them as a method of public order or crowd control. and said they would not be used in riot situations again.
On 13 July we atched in horror as the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) fired 17 plastic bullets in Ardoyne. They were again used on rioters in the Short Strand on Monday 31 August.
What happened to Hugh Ordes statement and his determination not to ever use plastic bullets again even in riot situations?
The firing of plastic bulets, even in difficult policing situations, is a recipe for disaster. It is only a matter of time before some one is killed and it will most probably be a child.
Recently in London there was very serious rioting between rival football fans and the police at the Westham versus Millwall match in which many people were hurt including some being stabbed. The police managed to restore law and order and not a plastic bullet was used or even contemplated.
The plastic bullet legacy has left 17 people dead, hundreds more injured maimed and disfigured many for life.
They have left a catalogue of carnage, grief and sectarian oppression.
The continued use of these weapons is an obstacle on the Road to Peace.
How can we ask young Nationalists to join a policing service when they may be ordered to fire these weapons given the alienation, bitterness, and mistrust they caused throughout Nationalist communities.
Good policing methods, especially dialogue at flash point areas before events escalate is a priority. The alternative to simply cope with riot by simply firing plastic bullets will set us back years.
These weapons have to be removed once and for all from our society.
Jim Mc Cabe
Plastic bullets are used routinely by the bully boys of the Israeli army in their oppression of Palestinians. In Bil’in while protesting against the continuing building of illegal settlements on Palestinian land.