Republican News · Thursday 10 July 1997

[An Phoblacht]

Plastic bullets fired indiscriminately

In Derry on Sunday evening young people challenging the RUC at Butcher Gate were attacked, with upwards of 1000 plastic bullets fired. Witnesses described seeing the RUC firing indiscriminately into the crowd, with most of the injuries occurring before the serious rioting took place. Nine were admitted to Altnagelvin Hospital with plastic bullet injuries. Some 30 others, injured but too frightened of arrest to seek hospital treatment, were treated in first aid houses. Others went to Letterkenny Hospital in Donegal.

One young lad of 16 was accidentally injured by a huge stone thrown by another young person. But it was no accident when eight RUC men dragged him away and kicked and beat him senseless. Left with a fractured skull, a broken jaw, and shattered facial bones amongst other injuries, he was on life support for some time afterwards. Four people are seriously ill and one may lose an eye. An eyewitness described seeing one man not involved in any rioting shot in the eye. ````The side of his face was completely torn away, and he seemed to just slump to the ground.'' Several others sustained serious head injuries. As usual most of the injuries were above the waist, in direct contravention of the rules governing the use of such lethal weapons.

Councillor Cathal Crumley called again for an immediate and complete ban on the use of plastic bullets. He said, ``The RUC fired more plastic bullets on Sunday in Derry than they did in the whole of their confrontations with Loyalists last year. ``

To further humiliate the nationalist community, the RUC and British Army worked throughout the night to seal off the City Centre, blocking all access to it except via Shipquay and Ferryquay Gates with huge concrete-filled skips welded to every gate. Traders were outraged - streets traders at Magazine Gate rammed the blockade there with a vehicle before the concrete set and temporarily re-opened access. The atmosphere in Derry was electric. People, denied access to their own city centre, milled around outside in angry groups, talking to their neighbours. Older people remembered the pre-Civil Rights days with outrage, commented with contempt on the prospects of the SDLP in any future election, and said ``No ceasefire ever again'' to any republican within earshot. Once again the city could be identified from a distance by clouds of black smoke rising on the horizon.

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