14 April 2005 Edition

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Bradley and Attwood ignore resign calls

Policing Board vice chair Denis Bradley and the SDLP's Alex Attwood have said they will not resign from the Policing Board, despite a number of human rights groups expressing anger at the decision of the board to approve the PSNI's purchase of a new model of plastic bullet.

Relatives for Justice, the United Campaign Against Plastic Bullets, the Committee for the Administration of Justice, the Children's Law Centre, the Pat Finucane Centre and the charity Save the Children have all criticised the board.

Clara Reilly, spokesperson for Relatives for Justice and the United Campaign Against Plastic Bullets, said the board totally ignored the views of families bereaved by or people injured by plastic bullets when they endorsed the PSNI's decision to deploy the weapon. She called for those on the board who say they are opposed to the use of plastic bullets to resign.

CAJ spokesperson Maggie Beirne pointed out that the Policing Board held no public meeting on the issue and did not seek the input of the many nongovernmental groups compaigning on plastic bullets, disregarded United Nations recommendations on this topic and sought no independent medical or human rights expertise.

Director of the Children's Law Centre, Paddy Kelly, said the decision to introduce the new bullet without proper impact assessment breaches the UN Convention on the Rights of the Children and other children's rights standards.

Sheri Chamberlain director of Save the Children said her organisation will be consulting with the Equality Commission over the board's failure to properly consult over the decision.

Sinn Féin spokesperson on policing, Gerry Kelly, said the decision would anger many within the broad nationalist and republican community. "Nationalists and republicans have every right to be angered by the action of the Policing Board in placing these lethal devices into the hands of the PSNI and the role of the SDLP in acquiescing to it," he said.

Rejecting calls for resignations from the board, Denis Bradley said he is "not a believer in people resigning over these issues" while SDLP Assembly member Alex Attwood said that calls for people to resign "may make a headline but it will do nothing to get policing right".

The SDLP has three members on the policing board.

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