Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan is to be asked to investigate the use of CS gas during disturbances in Derry’s nationalist Bogside.
Officers used the gas in the Rossville Street area of the city early on Sunday. Three men and a woman were arrested in relation to the disturbances and charged with public order offences.
The PSNI police defended its use following criticism by Derry-based human rights’ group the Pat Finucane Centre, as well as one of the people on whom the spray was used.
At around 1:30 am on Sunday morning, a number of PSNI members emerging from two armoured vehicles in the Bogside assaulted a man while arresting him for disorderly behavior.
Anumber of passers by witnessed the events and challenged the police, who reacted by covering the area with CS gas.
The man the police arrested was saturated with the gas and as a result was very badly burned. A number of other people were then arrested by the PSNI, who also appeared to be suffering from the gas.
Paul O’Connor of the Pat Finucane Centre said the CS spray was adopted without consultation with academics, who were “sceptical” about its use.
“I don’t believe it is right to use any weapon where there’s been no proper long-term study done,” he said.
“Dr Raymond McClean (a Derry GP who has conducted research into damage caused by CS gas) highlighted this last year; that for instance the recommendations of a report on CS gas in Derry many, many years ago had never been acted upon,” he said.
The 32 County Sovereignty Movement accused the PSNI of “provoking the nationalist community at every opportunity”.
In a statement they said: “It has not been lost on the people of Derry that over three and a half decades after the Battle of the Bogside their streets are still being choked by CS gas from RUC guns. Little has changed from the days of the B-Specials except the name.”