SDLP MLA and Policing Board member, Mark H Durkan has called for a public inquiry into the use of plastic and rubber bullets by British forces and police during the Troubles, despite knowledge that the bullets were deemed ‘too dangerous.’
It follows an examination of declassified documents by BBC Spotlight which points at a potential cover-up by the army and the RUC into the deaths of eight children killed by rubber bullets during the Troubles. In total sixteen people were killed and others seriously injured.
The Foyle MLA commented:
“These documents reveal that British armed forces knew the risks of using plastic bullets as early as 1971. The army’s own Land Operations Manual outlined that these rounds should not be used against children but despite this knowledge the use of the riot gun continued for over a decade, resulting in the deaths of eight children. That is absolutely horrendous. It is unequivocal evidence of a cover-up at the hands of British forces.
“My thoughts are with victims’ families at this time, particularly with the families of Julie Livingstone and Paul Whitters, aged 10 and 15 respectively who were shot and killed by army and RUC plastic bullets. British state files relating to their deaths were recently reclassified until 2064 and 2059. This shocking move was hard to comprehend at the time; now, in light of declassified documents it further supports claims of a cover-up.
“Eight children here were denied a future, denied life, there was no justification for these shootings. Sixteen families lost their loved ones and those involved in their deaths must be held accountable. Victims and survivors deserve justice; a public inquiry is the only way forward.”