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19 July 2001 Edition

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Ban Plastic Bullets call

Sinn Féin's Alex Maskey has welcomed as ``important and significant'' a statement from the Human Rights Commissioner Professor Brice Dickson criticising the RUC over its use of plastic bullets, which have killed 14 people and injured hundreds.

``Plastic bullets are lethal weapons which are designed to kill,'' said Maskey. ``It is a disgrace that in the wake of Patten the RUC took it upon themselves to introduce an even more lethal plastic bullet.

``Traditionally the RUC have used plastic bullets almost entirely against the nationalist community. This fact was underlined again last week when the RUC fired upwards of 50 plastic bullets at nationalist residents in Ardoyne. One 16-year-old girl was struck in the face and another woman had them fired into her living room.

``Anybody with any concern for human rights will support the immediate banning of plastic bullets and in this regard today's statement from the Commission is both important and significant.''

Brice Dickson had called on the British government to intensify its efforts to develop other, safer methods of crowd control, particularly when young children are involved. The commission also said that it believes the use of the weapon for crowd control was ``a disproportionate use of force''.

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