The PSNI fired plastic bullets during serious rioting in County Armagh at the weekend as rioting broke out in the nationalist Drumbeg and Meadowbrook estates in Craigavon.
Clashes between nationalst youths and the PSNI took place on Saturday night following a rocket attack on Brownlow police barracks in the area. A device was launched at the base, but missed.
The PSNI said it fired only three ‘non-lethal baton rounds’.
Sinn Fein said it was “completely opposed to the use of plastic bullets” but strongly condemned the violence.
“I would challenge those who claim to speak politically for these factions to tell the republican and nationalist community exactly how these sorts of activities, or indeed the recent murder in Derry, advance the cause of a united Ireland one iota,” said local Sinn Fein assembly member John O’Dowd.
“The fact is they don’t. A peaceful and democratic path to Irish unity exists and it is the path that the vast majority of republicans are now on.”
Mr O’Dowd said the trouble was “wrong and politically pointless”.
“The sad reality is that these people who claim to be republican now share exactly the same political objectives as the rejectionist unionists,” he said.
“The people who carried out this attack want to see an end to the political process, they want to see an end to a process which as we speak is moving more and more powers away from Westminster and into Irish politicians’ hands, they want to see the British army on Irish streets and they want control over our daily lives in the hands of British Direct Rule Ministers. That is an outcome which we are determined will not be delivered.”
eirigi said the Craigavon violence illustrated the unacceptability of the PSNI in nationalist areas.
Breandan Mac Cionnaith of eirigi said plastic bullets are “lethal weapons”.
“Since their introduction in the early 1970s they have been directly responsible for the deaths of 17 people. Yet the PSNI seems determined to continue using these barbaric weapons until they inflict heartbreak on yet another innocent family.
“At a time when the great and the good are proclaiming a new beginning for policing in the Six Counties, the PSNI is proving, by its own actions, that it is business as usual as far as its treatment of nationalist communities is concerned.”
Mr Mac Cionnaith continued: “It is time for the PSNI’s political cheerleaders to come clean on their claims that the devolution of limited policing and justice powers will change the nationalist experience of policing.
“The PSNI is as unacceptable an entity as the RUC was. It must be opposed by all those with any concern for the human rights of nationalists and republicans. Incidents like last night’s in Craigavon merely prove that point.”