Plastic bullet campaigners vow to eliminate the weapon

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The campaigning mother of the last person killed by a plastic bullet in the north has said she will continue her fight against their use in the north of Ireland as they once again appeared on the streets of north Belfast.

Fifteen-year-old Seamus Duffy died after being struck by a plastic bullet fired by an RUC man at an anti-internment bonfire in New Lodge on August 9, 1989, thirty years ago this week.

The teenager, who came from Oldpark in north Belfast, had travelled to New Lodge to watch the bonfire when trouble broke out and he was shot in the chest.

During an inquest in 1990 a pathologist said his heart had been crushed and there was a four inch laceration on his left lung.

The teenager’s parents Brendan and Kathleen, were later prominent members of the United Campaign Against Plastic Bullets.

On Thursday, PSNI (formerly RUC) riot police (pictured) aimed plastic bullet guns at nationalist youths at an anti-internment bonfire in the New Lodge, although it is believed no projectiles were fired.

Seamus’s mother this week vowed to continue to recover the truth of past killings and to finally eliminate the weapon.

“I will keep it going and when I go (my daughter) will keep it going and when she goes the grandchildren will keep it going,” she told the Belfast-based Irish News.

“Everybody has the right to life no matter who or what they are and everybody’s heartache is the same.

“They (the RUC) were supposed to be the law keepers enforcing the law and they were running around (killing) people.

“Seamus was the only person in north Belfast killed by a plastic bullet and I hope he is the last, I would not wish it on anybody.”

Her daughter Christine revealed how her father Brendan, who died last year, was threatened when he rushed to a hospital after learning that his son had been shot.

“The peeler was pushing my daddy against the wall, she said. “He said ‘keep it up and you will be the as your son’. The doctor told the police to ‘move out of this hospital’.”

Christine explained how another member of the medical staff approached the family.

“A nurse came in and said ‘come in and take his clothes now because if you don’t they (RUC) will tamper with them.”

Mike Ritchie from Relatives for Justice said: “There can be no doubt that their determination and energy in publicising the dangers of these lethal weapons and calling for accountability from the British authorities partly explains why they have been used so seldom over the last two decades.

“The PSNI should take the next step and get rid of them once and for all.”

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