Plastic bullets 'would have been dangerous to use in England' but are still used in Northern Ireland

Wed, 21/12/2011 - 11:45 -- Editor

A House of Commons report on the English summer riots stated that the use of plastic bullets on crowds would have been 'inappropriate and dangerous' sparking fury among Northern Irish politicians.

Sinn Fein say the report highlights the stark hypocrisy of using such methods in Ireland.

Sinn Féin's Policing spokesperson Elisha McCallion said that the report highlighted the blatant double standards and hypocrisy over the use of plastic bullets in Ireland.

“The report’s recommendations,  along with that of senior police officers, clearly state that these are dangerous weapons and that their use could only inflame a riot situation. However in the north of Ireland we have the continued and unacceptable use of plastic bullets by the PSNI.

“The question then is why are these lethal weapons in continued usage here. 17 people have been killed by these weapon, eight of which have been children. This summer alone saw 338 plastic bullets fired.

“Sinn Féin has consistently called for plastic bullets to be banned. The Patten Commission called for them to be replaced. Even the former PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde accepted that plastic bullets should not be used in crowd control situations.

"This Westminster report only serves to emphasise the fact that plastic bullets should not be used as weapons in public order situations -neither in Britain nor in Ireland. I would urge the PSNI chief constable Matt Baggott to use this opportunity to take plastic bullets out of circulation, once and for all."

The British Government pioneered the use of plastic bullets. Used extensively in Northern Ireland, it was discovered they were lethal at certain ranges.

From 1973 to 1981, over 42,000 plastic bullets were fired in the north. Fourteen people were killed by plastic bullet impacts, including nine children.