An international human rights adviser is to investigate the circumstances in which four young people, including a 13-year-old child, were injured with plastic bullets in north Belfast last month.
The four were hit as the PSNI sprayed plastic bullets into nationalist residents in Ardoyne on July 13 while forcing a sectarian Orange Order parade through the area.
The Police Ombudsman is already conducting an investigation.
There have been complaints by campaigners that human rights under European treaties may have been breached by the PSNI during the disorder.
Seventeen people, eight of them children, were killed by plastic bullets in the north during the conflict so far.
The old style of plastic bullet is no longer used in Northern Ireland. In March 2005 the Policing Board backed Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde’s decision to introduce a ‘less lethal’ type of baton round known as the Attenuating Energy Projectile.
The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has already called for the current version of the plastic bullet, the ‘Attenuating Energy Projectile’, to be withdrawn from use.
The mother of one schoolboy struck on the leg with a plastic bullet said he had narrowly escaped serious injury.
Thirteen-year-old Patrick Waring was hit in the thigh shortly after loyalists passed the interface on July 13.
“I’d brought Patrick into the house earlier that day once the trouble kicked off,” his mother Valerie said.
“I only went out to the shop round the corner for five minutes and when I got back he was gone - I suppose he was curious because he knew that something was going on up the road.
“I was just about to go looking for him when his older brother carried him into the house and said he had been hit.
“Patrick is 13 but he’s very small and looks much younger. Whoever fired at him would have been in no doubt he was only a child.
“I was just thankful that he wasn’t more seriously injured but I’m angry that plastic bullets were fired into crowds of children.
“Given the amount of mothers who have lost their children because of plastics you would think that in this day and age this sort of thing couldn’t happen, that there would be tighter controls.”
Meanwhile, the home of a former republican prisoner was raided this week in a campaign of harassment against ‘dissident’ republicans in north Belfast following the Ardoyne violence.
Mobile phones and computer equipment were removed from the west Belfast home of Carl Reilly, a prominent member of the Republican Network for Unity (RNU).
Minutes of meetings of RNU, which has a number of high-profile members, were also removed.
Mr Reilly has said the raid was part of a concerted campaign of harassment aimed at recruiting him as an informer.
“As a member of RNU I was in Ardoyne on July 13 to support residents and to take part in a peaceful protest that was prevented from taking place by the crown forces,” he said.
“If the detectives who called to my door had taken time to look at CCTV and television footage from the day it clearly shows myself and other members of RNU trying to calm young people and move them back out of harm’s way.
“This has been going on for some time and I have already contacted my solicitor in regard to the ongoing harassment from British intelligence against me and my family.
“I have been offered stupid amounts of money to become an informant and threatened that I would be set up and locked away if I didn’t cooperate and provide information.
“There is no doubt that they are capable of carrying out these threats as has been seen in the past.
“I am a member of RNU, a perfectly legitimate peaceful political organisation.
“I make no secret of that but this ongoing harassment of me and my family shows that nothing has changed when it comes to policing in the north.”