The North’s Policing Board has given approval for the deployment of a new and potentially lethal plastic bullet.
The new bullets - referred to as Attenuated Energy Projectiles (AEPs) are effectively a plastic bullet with sponge on the end. AEPs will continue to be fired from the same guns at the same velocity as the current plastic bullets.
Dozens have been killed and injured by the bullets over the past thirty years of conflict, particularly young children who are most at risk from the missiles.
SDLP board member Alex Attwood said that his party had opposed the decision. He said there had been “inadequate medical assessments on the impact of this weapon on children”.
However, the decision has cast a light on the nationalist party’s participation in the board and its efforts to legitimise the actions of the PSNI police and British Army in Ireland.
Sinn Féin spokesperson on policing issues Gerry Kelly has accused the SDLP ‘of once again acquiescing to the continuing use of plastic bullets by the PSNI’.
“Plastic bullets kill -- that is the bottom line,” said Mr Kelly. “They are lethal devices and have no place in an acceptable policing service. The SDLP in public have consistently claimed to be opposed to the use of plastic bullets.
“They told us that through membership pf the Policing Board they would ensure the removal of Plastic Bullets. Yet on the Policing Board they have previously rubber stamped the purchase of thousands of these devices.”
The new plastic bullet will be introduced by the British Army in the North in the coming months.