TO DATE three people have been killed by rubber bullets and eight by plastic bullets in Northern Ireland. Lately two more men have been seriously injured by plastic bullets joining the hundreds of others, many of them children, wounded in the past few months.
The British Army have given a figure of 1955 plastic; bullets fired by them in April alone. So astounding is this that they have received instructions not to issue any further figures on numbers Fired.
There is a major difference in the instructions for rubber bullets in force in early August 1972 and the printed copy supplied by the British Army, Summer 1980 — while rubber bullets were supposed to be "bounced", plastic bullets are for direct aim. The new instruction reads — "The rounds must be fired at selected persons and not indiscriminatley at the crowd. They should he aimed so that they strike the lower part of the tareet's body directly (ie without bouncing)" and "rounds must not he fired at a range of less than 20 metres except when the safety of soldiers or others is seriously threatened."
it is under the "discretion" of these instructions that Mrs Nora McCabe aged 30 years, mother of three children, was hit by a plastic bullet oh the head by the RUC and died.
She was on her way to a shop for cigarettes. United States Army research has shown that any crowd control weapon based on blunt impact is in the "severe damage" region if' its impact energy exceeds 90 foot-I tis.
Parliamentary questions have revelaed that at five yards range the plastic bullet has 210 foot-lbs of energy, and at 50 yards the energy of the projectile is still 110 foot-lbs.
The common law duty of soldiers and RUC deliberatley not to use excess of force knows no exception. This must be recognised by the Chief
Constable and the tiOC. 11 they don't then we can only depend on public opinion because Catholics in the north of Ireland have no public representatives.
For that reason I ask why the heads of the four main churches are silent on the death of Mrs McCabe and the ferocious injuries to others due to plastic bullets.
Fr Raymond Murray Armagh A YOUTH of 16 is shot and killed by troops during a street riot in Blefast. During similar street riots in Toxteth, Moss Side, Brixton etc. the police resist passively without the support of troops. We are frequently told that Belfast is as much part of the United Kingdom as Liverpool or Leeds or Birmingham. If this is so. why are plastic shields used in Brixton, but bullets in Belfast?
J. A. Brennan Liverpool