Irish Republican News · September 17, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Protest against plastic bullets

A widow whose husband was killed by a plastic bullet yesterday confronted a senior member of the North’s Policing Board, demanding a ban on the use of the baton round.

Anti-plastic bullet campaigners protested outside the policing body’s headquarters in Belfast, burning a million pounds of fake notes to symbolise the estimated cost of the continued use of the weapon.

The PSNI police has confirmed in a letter to human rights group Relatives for Justice that, in the last two-and-a-half years, police have purchased 120,000 plastic bullets.

Policing Board vice-chairman Denis Bradley yesterday accepted a letter from protesters outside his office and spoke to Brenda Downes, whose husband Sean was killed by a plastic bullet in 1984.

Mrs Downes argued that the money spent on baton rounds was a misuse of public resources.

“It has been proven that the use of plastic bullets has caused riots in the past. It is now time, with the peace process, that we get rid of these weapons of destruction to be able to move forward,” she said.

“We feel that our views must be taken on board to be able to build trust.

“My daughter is going to have to drop out of university as she can’t survive.

“Can this money (used to buy plastic bullets) not be used to educate our children?”

Paul O’Connor of the Pat Finucane Centre also said: “If they are not going to be used, they shouldn’t be purchased.

“What is needed is an outright ban that would send out the most important message to the community.”

Sinn Féin assembly member Gerry Kelly said that plastic bullets had “no place in modern policing” and the issue would be raised at the political talks in Kent.

“The Policing Board has bankrolled the purchase of plastic bullets for the past three years,” Mr Kelly said.

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© 2004 Irish Republican News