Speaking today after the UVF attack on nationalists and the firing of plastic bullets by the PSNI in East Belfast last night Chairperson of Relatives for Justice Clara Reilly said:
“I believe that there is a degree of shock in our entire community today after the events in East Belfast last night.
“A sustained sectarian attack on vulnerable nationalist citizens was something we had all hoped we had seen the last of.
“The coming hours and days will demand a very honest and forthright examination of many issues, not least how to protect citizens from such an onslaught. Relatives for Justice works in Short Strand and our members bear witness to the cost our conflict has had in that area. For our peace process to mean anything it must mean that vulnerable communities are protected from the harms they have previously lived through.
“However it is incumbent on those charged with effective policing to ensure that all tactics are effective and appropriate.
“The use of plastic bullets last night was neither. It did not protect vulnerable citizens and was far from appropriate.
“When the big decisions on policing were being taken our community was told that plastic bullets would never again be used in riot or crowd control situations. Last night they were once again the PSNI’s weapon of first resort.
“Relatives for Justice once again raises the dangers of these weapons – whoever they are used against. They have never played a positive role in resolving difficult or dangerous situations. They have only exacerbated them. Had anyone been seriously injured or worse by the use of plastic bullets last night the issues being faced today would be considerably worse.
“These weapons must be removed as a policy decision by Chief Constable Matt Baggott. In the interim their use should be suspended forthwith and better more effective and appropriate policing methods adopted – which protect lives and uphold human rights standards.”