28 October 2004 Edition
PSNI member suspended over CS Spray
Sinn Féin is calling for the immediate ban on the controversial CS Spray after the PSNI in Derry suspended one of its members over misuse of the spray during disturbances in the city on Saturday 16 October.
News of the suspension, part of the PSNI's own "internal accountabilty mechanism", came just days after it was disclosed that the Policing Ombudsman, Nuala O'Loan, is investigating five cases in which the debilitating spray was used in Derry City.
Although all uses of the spray are investigated by the Police Ombudsman's Office, it is unusual that a PSNI member would be suspended pending the investigation. The PSNI would not disclose the circumstances behind its own internal inquiry nor explain why the member was suspended.
Spokesperson for the Derry based Human Rights Group, the Pat Finucane Centre, Paul O'Connor, said there should be a moratorium on the use of the spray.
"It has been used 19 times in the North of Ireland and on almost half of these occasions within an area of a quarter of a mile radius in Derry. We don't believe this is one of the most dangerous places in the North," he said.
Sinn Féin councillor Paul Fleming said the people of Derry have no confidence in the PSNI investigating themselves in private or that the Policing Board can hold them accountable.