Relatives for Justice wish to express its deep concern at the firing of numerous plastic bullets in North Belfast on Monday 13th July. We understand that the office of the Police Ombudsman is investigating the use of plastic bullets by the PSNI that night.
Chairperson of Relatives for Justice Clara Reilly said today:
“It is our understanding that there are a number of injuries sustained, and that there may be a 12 year old injured – (we have heard this from two separate sources, but this remains unconfirmed as yet).
“We have had sight of one injury which involved a man being hit above waist level in the stomach.
“We understand that those who have received injuries may not have received medical attention. The nature of these types of plastic bullets – particularly in cases of abdominal or chest injuries – means that medical attention is strongly advisable. We urge those with injuries to seek medical attention. This is particularly the case for any young people who have sustained injuries. Deep muscle and organ damage is possible and the extent of any injury may emerge only in the days after the injury was sustained. Don’t be brave and wave it off – get it seen to.
“Relatives for Justice is opposed to the use of Plastic Bullets in any situation. We have been repeatedly assured that they are not considered by the PSNI to be a form of riot control – however yet again that is exactly the context in which plastic bullets are being used. This is deeply concerning. As long as plastic bullets remain in the armoury of the PSNI they will be used in this context.
“We are also concerned that the extent of the use of plastic bullets on Monday night is not fully understood or known as a result of injuries not being reported and statements not being taken. We are therefore unable to clearly ascertain the extent to which the use of plastic bullets on Monday night either met or did not meet the PSNI’s own guidelines. This information is vital to ensuring that our community can hold the PSNI to account through the office of the Police Ombudsman. It is also vital in our community’s campaign to have the use of these weapons ended.
“Every time a plastic bullet is used a life is put at risk. Should a young person be seriously injured or worse lose their life in Ardoyne, or anywhere else, as a result of the use of these weapons it would cause devastation to that young person’s family which is irreparable. We see the results of that carnage every day in our office and we do not want to see that visited on any more families. In addition such a tragedy would cause unimaginable political and community impact.
“Today we have been in touch with our colleagues in the Committee on the Administration of Justice to raise this issue, and with the Police Ombudsman’s Office. We strongly urge anybody who may have been injured to contact Relatives for Justice on 90220100 so that these injuries and the use of plastic bullets is clearly and transparently held to account.”