Sinn Féin has welcomed comments by PSNI chief Hugh Orde expressing a measure of regret for deaths caused by the use of plastic bullets in the North of Ireland.
Orde acknowledged that some people killed by baton rounds were innocent victims who “should not have died”.
But the PSNI chief did not rule out authorising their use in future “when circumstances dictate”.
Describing plastic bullets as a “legacy issue”, he said: “I also think that, if you look at the past, it is absolutely clear that a number of the people who were killed were innocent - some of those were kids.
“As a group, a lot were in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
The widespread use of the potentially lethal weapons at demonstrations during the conflict remains a significant cause of republican distrust in the police force.
Seventeen people, including nine children, were killed by plastic bullets and many more were blinded or maimed.
The projectiles were often fired directly aand point blank at the heads or chests of Catholic civilians.
Sinn Féin said the comments were welcome.
“Hugh Orde’s acknowledgement of the hurt resulting from injuries and death of innocent people, including children, is also welcome,” said Sinn Féin Chairman Mitchel McLauglin.
“These weapons should never be used again.”
Campaigners against plastic bullets have also welcomed the remarks, but say more action is needed to address “the legacy of impunity” surrounding their use.
Orde also warned of the potential for future conflict if the politicians fail to find agreement before the summer marching season.
“Having now been allowed to officially meet Sinn Féin, my impression is the leadership is committed to joining policing but my impression also is they need to convince a lot of people in their community who are still unsure.
“That is one side of the equation. What is equally important is that other politicians in other parties help to create the space that allows the world to move on.
“Playing brinkmanship is not very clever. They really need to think what the outcomes are of a failure.”