British army's use of plastic bullets condemned


The Pat Finucane Centre has condemned the use of plastic bullets by the British army during sectarian disturbances in east Belfast on Thursday night.

In a statement the centre pointed out that the use of plastic bullets, when fired by British soldiers rather than the PSNI, could not be investigated by the Police Ombudsman.

It also expressed concern at security force tactics which it alleged had allowed loyalists access to nationalist homes in the Short Strand enclave.

The Short Strand Concerned Women's group yesterday launched a dossier detailing loyalist attacks over the past five weeks.

The group's spokeswoman, Ms Mairéad O'Donnell, said they wanted to expose the myth that the attacks were tit-for-tat and called for international observers to be allowed access to the area.

"In the past residents, had to travel into loyalist areas to use the post office, post box, doctor's surgery, chemist and supermarkets. Loyalist threats, blockades, attacks and intimidation have meant that nationalists have been unable to use these facilities. Temporary emergency provisions have been put in place in the local community centre but this is not a satisfactory solution," she added.

A Sinn Féin councillor for the area, Mr Joe O'Donnell, claimed the nationalist community was under siege.

"People need to open their eyes and see the reality here. We are a community of 3,000 people surrounded by 90,000 loyalists," Mr O'Donnell said.

Meanwhile in south Belfast, a man was taken to hospital after being stabbed in the side yesterday shortly after 4 p.m. close to a motor factors store on the Ormeau Road.

His condition is believed to be serious. Police do not believe that the attack was sectarian.