28 Feb

from http://www.belfast32.blogspot.com

Plastic bullets are used in the north of Ireland by the crown forces. The plastic bullet weighs 4.75 ounces and is approximately 4.5 inches long and 1.5 inches in diameter. They are constructed of rock-solid PVC (polyvinylchloride). When a plastic bullet is fired, it leaves the barrel at approximately 160 miles per hour. The plastic bullet replaced the rubber bullet in 1973 and since then more tha…n 60,000 have been fired. Seventeen people have been killed by rubber and plastic bullets in the last 30 years in the north of Ireland.

The PSNI claim that plastic bullets cause fewer and less severe injuries than live ammunition. This belief has led to the indiscriminate use of plastic bullets that would be unthinkable if live ammunition was being used. In 1996 over 7,000 rounds were fired by the British Army and the RUC during Unionist and Nationalist protests. In Derry alone 2,815 plastic bullets were fired from 11th July to 14th July. Although plastic bullets are labelled ‘non-lethal’ fourteen people, including seven children, were killed in the north of Ireland by plastic bullets between 1974 and 1996 and hundreds more have suffered grievous and life-changing injuries, including blindness and shattered bones.

Allegations of the sectarian use of plastic bullets are supported by eyewitness and victim testimony collected by Human Rights Watch and also by the disparity in the number of plastic bullets fired at the two communities. In 1996 according to RUC statistics, eight times as many plastic bullets were fired in three and a half days of Nationalist protest as were fired during four and a half days of Unionist protest.

Until recently the British forces had never used plastic bullets on their own people, although it seemed acceptable to use them in the north of Ireland.

When the British Labour Party was in opposition they pledged to ban plastic bullets. Once in power however, they introduced the new plastic bullet which is more lethal than the old one and bought a 50,000 stockpile days before the RUC was re-named the Police Service of Northern Ireland. They have now authorised their use in the Britain.



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