Plastic Bullets / Tasers / CS Gas

17 people were killed during the conflict by members of the security forces firing plastic or rubber bullets/ batons. 8 of the 17 people were children, and all but one was catholic.

NO to Plastic Bullets

Three civilians were killed as a result of the use of rubber bullets before they were replaced by plastic bullets in 1973, Francis Rowntree (11 years old), Thomas Friel (18 years old), and Tobias Molloy (21 years old). PFC has uncovered declassified British government documents from the National Archives on the dangers posed by rubber bullets, including concerns that technical data highlighting the lethal nature of rubber bullets might be exposed in the legal case for compensation being taken on behalf of Derry schoolboy Richard Moore who was blinded by a rubber bullet. This information helped persuade the Attorney General to grant a new inquest to examine the circumstances of Thomas Friel’s death.

PFC has also uncovered a number of declassified documents that paint an alarming picture concerning the dangers of plastic batons. These include correspondence between the Chemical Defence Establishment (CDE)at Porton Down and officials within the Ministry of Defence (MOD). It was the responsibility of the CDE Establishment to test plastic bullets, and inform an Independent Medical Committee of their findings who would then report to government Ministers. The CDE repeatedly complained that they were being “thwarted” from fulfilling their responsibilities as the MOD was not providing information on the nature or types of injuries as a result of the use of plastic bullets here in the north.

Declassified documents also highlight faults with the trigger mechanism, a misaligned site, and a weak breech locking mechanism that could cause the weapon to open when firing.

Latest Articles

  • Plastic bullet victim’s family in witness appeal

    The family of Derry teenager, Paul Whitters (15), killed by a plastic bullet fired by the RUC more than 35 years ago have issued a new appeal for witnesses.
  • Statement by the Secretary of State for the Home Department on Tasers

    The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Jacqui Smith): Each day police officers put themselves in danger to protect the public, so I am committed to providing the police with the tools they tell me they need to fight crime and keep the public and themselves safe. I am also proud that we have...
  • TASER: Trial Evaluation

    TASER has been available to all Authorised Firearms Officers (AFOs) since September 2004 as a less lethal alternative for use in situations where a firearms authority has been granted in accordance with criteria laid down in the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) Manual of Guidance on Polic...
  • Statement DSAC Sub-committee on the Medical Implications of Less-lethal Weapons (DOMILL)

    On 20th July 2007, the Home Secretary approved a one year trial by ten police forces of the use of M26 and X26 Tasers by Specially Trained Units (STUs) and Authorised Firearms Officers (AFOs) at incidents where firearms authority had not been granted. 2. The trial, which commenced on 1st September 2...
  • Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission highlights concerns around TASERs

    The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission has stated today that until the process of an Equality Impact Assessment and compliance with human rights standards are satisfactorily completed, the Commission remains opposed to the introduction of TASERs in Northern Ireland even as a pilot.

Declassified Documents

  • Declassified documents from the National Archives on the dangers posed by rubber bullets.

    The documents, which were found in the National Archives recently by the PFC detail concerns that technical data highlighting the lethal nature of rubber bullets might be exposed in the legal case for compensation being taken on behalf of Derry schoolboy Richard Moore who was blinded by a rubber bullet.

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  • Plastic bullets — plastic death. Decoding the Declassified documents (Part 2)

    Over the past 10 days the families of Stephen Mc Conomy and Paul Whitters have reflected on the anniversaries of their tragic deaths. On Tuesday the Journal highlighted the failure of the British Army to provide medical evidence to the Government appointed Medical Committee whose responsibility it was to advise Ministers on the risks posed by plastic bullets. Within weeks of Stephen’s death the Medical Committee were again complaining that information was being withheld. 

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  • Plastic bullets — plastic death. Decoding the Declassified documents (Part 1)

    Last Thursday marked the 30th anniversary of the British Army killing of 11 year old Stephen Mc Conomy. Tomorrow, April 25th, is the 31st anniversary of the death of 15 year old Paul Whitters who died nine days after being shot in Gt James St. We should resist the temptation to say that they were ‘killed by plastic bullets’. They were killed by a member of the RUC in one case and a member of the Royal Anglian Regiment in the other. They were children who were killed by adults firing plastic bullets.

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