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6 December 2001 Edition

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PLASTIC KILLERS

THE MURDEROUS intentions of the British government in suppressing legitimate street protests by nationalists in the North was underlined by this week's refusal by direct ruler Jim Prior to review the use of plastic bullets against demonstrators.

Seven out of the 13 killings by rubber bullets occurred this year and were in response to the massive mobilisations in support of the H-Block Hunger Strike.

But it has been the discriminate use of the plastic bullets against Catholic children, onlookers, republican mourners and nationalist demonstrators which says all that needs to be said about the second-class citizens of the occupied Six Counties.

British Home Secretary William Whitelaw banned the use of plastic bullets on the grounds that someone 'might get killed', when, in fact, what really influenced him was the political outcry which would follow, especially from leaders of the black community if their people were cut down.

The British need fear no such reaction in the North from the collaborationist SDLP. Besides, Whitelaw himself was direct ruler in the North in 1972 and 1973 when not just 'someone', but three people were killed by rubber bullets; Frances Rowntree (aged 11), in Belfast, in April 1972; Tobias Molloy (18) in Strabane in July 1972; and Thomas Friel (21) in Derry, in May 1973).

Jim Prior's reaction of calls for an official enquiry was made in response to a demand, not from the SDLP but from British Labour Party spokesperson on the North, and hypocrite, Don Concannon. When Concannon was based at Stormont, Brian Stewart (13) was fatally wounded in Belfast in October 1976. And Concannon was partially responsible for the H-Blocks and the blanket protest which led to the Hunger Strikes and this year's street protests, the plastic bullet victims of which he now pretends to be concerned about.

The only organisation which specifically demonstrated against plastic bullets was Sinn Féin, while the response of the SDLP's 'law and order' spokesman, Michael Canavan, was given at the party's annual conference.

The use of plastic bullets was condemned, but amazingly only on the grounds that 'individual police officers seemed to be free agents in deciding when to fire'. The SDLP had no objection to their actual use!

The sectarian use of plastic bullets (16,000 were fired at nationalists between March and October) will thus continue; and loyalists will remain immune from repression, just as British soldiers and RUC men remain immune over torturing people, as in the recent case of those RUC men cleared in the James Rafferty trial, or even murdering people, as in the case of those, who this year, in 15 weeks, killed Paul Witters (aged 15), Julie Livingstone (14), Carol Ann Kelly (12), Harry Duffy (45), Nora McCabe (30), Peter Doherty (40) and Peter Magennis (41).

An Phoblacht, Thursday 10 December 1981



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