A Missed Opportunity

United Campaign Against Plastic Bullets
235a Falls Road
Belfast
BT12 4PE

Tel: 028 90220100
Fax: 028 90220101
email:
[email protected]

2nd April 2001


“British Government Proposals a Missed Opportunity”

Speaking following the British Secretary of State’s announcement
yesterday that existing plastic bullets are not to be removed but
replaced by a new alternative Clara Reilly, Chairperson of the United
Campaign Against Plastic Bullets said:

“This announcement beggars belief. We are astounded both by the
announcement and that a working group set up in the wake of Patten to
examine this issue failed to contact or engage with the very
constituency affected by the horrific consequences of the use of
plastic bullets.

“Not once were those injured by the use of plastic bullets or the
bereaved families consulted. One would have thought they would be at
the very least an integral part of the so-called ‘working groups’
brief. Instead they like every other initiative designed by the British
Government chosen to ignore the real facts.

“The failure to do so coupled with John Reid’s thinly disguised PR
around the announcement, is reminiscent of that previously used when
plastic bullets were first introduced to replace the rubber bullet.
Since then 14 people, including 7 school children have been killed and
hundreds horrifically injured.

“The vast majority of those deceased were innocent and killed in
circumstances where there was no rioting or disturbances. In all
instances resulting in fatalities the rules governing the use of
plastic bullets were breached, facts clearly established by inquest
courts. People will automatically see through the PR for yet another
lethal weapon and undoubtedly plastic bullets will continue to
terrorise our communities and be the technology of political control.

“People know that truth behind rubber and plastic bullets – and we know
that in time this latest move will inevitably and sadly have deadly
consequences.

“Feeble or hollow guarantees and assurances are simply not good enough. Plastic bullets should never be allowed again.

“It is recognised that plastic bullets breach international standards
on human rights. They are considered both a lethal weapon and a weapon
of torture. John Reid like his predecessors, has paved the way for the
continued use of plastic bullets for the foreseeable future. It is
absolutely incredible that this is happening at a time when we are
being asked to support new policing structures. In this context the
British government are yet again out of step with upholding and
implementing international standards on human rights. The British
government has missed an opportunity to eradicate plastic bullets.

“We find it ironic that in a time of peace building and when we hear
daily of the British government demanding decommissioning that they are
equally and vigorously engaged in designing a new weapon to fire at
civilians.

“When An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern first came to power his first act was
to destroy all of the plastic bullets in the armoury of the 26 County
State. The British government would do well to follow his example. We
expect no more and no less.”