Michael McMonagle
Derry Journal
17 April 2012

Renewed calls have been made for a ban on the use of plastic bullets ahead of the 30th anniversary of a Derry schoolboy killed with the controversial weapon.

Sinn Féin councillor Colly Kelly made the call ahead of the anniversary of the killing of eleven year-old Stephen McConomy in the Fahan Street are in 1982.

A memorial plaque will be unveiled on Thursday evening close to the spot where the St John’s Primary School pupil was shot by a member of the British army’s Anglian regiment.

His family have also called for plastic bullets to be banned.

Speaking ahead of the anniversary, colr. Kelly repeated his party’s call for the weapon to be withdrawn from use.

“Both the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the UN Committee against Torture state that plastic bullets (AEPs) should not be used against children and young people,” he said.

Colr. Kelly said the dangers of baton rounds is clear from the statistics of the injuries caused by the weapons in the North over the last three decades.

“Since rubber bullets were first introduced and then replaced by plastic bullets, 17 people, nine of them children and teenagers have been killed by these lethal weapons.

“Thousands more were injured, many of them scarred and disabled for life. In the summer of 1996 during the month of July nearly 3000 plastic bullets were fired in Derry in just over a 72 hour period,” he said.

He called from an immediate ban on their use to be put in place in order to prevent further loss of life and injury.

“Rubber and plastic bullets were and are a weapon of terror; deliberately used by the British state and its agencies to intimidate and terrorise citizens.

“We need to ensure that no plastic bullets are ever fired again and that the victims of this lethal weapon and their families have the right to truth”

“The Sinn Féin position on Plastic Bullets is clear and unambiguous. We are absolutely opposed to the use of plastic bullets and have campaigned to have them removed for decades and will continue to do,” he said.

The new momorial plaque to Stephen McConomy will be unveilled on Fahan Street on Thursday evening at 6pm by his relatives.

It will be followed by an event in the Tower Hotel, Butcher Street, at 6.30pm, organised by the Pat Finucane Centre, which will address the use of rubber and plastic bullets.

The McConomy family have been working with the Pat Finucane Centre to enage with the Historical Enquiries Team as part of their campaign for get justice for the schoolboy’s death. Stephen’s brother has called for a fresh inquest to be held into the case as part of the campaign.

Paul O’Connor from the Pat Finucane Centre encouraged as many people as possible to come along to the commemoration events.

“We will be looking at the use of plastic bullets in the North and also presenting documents from the Public Records Office at Kew, which we have uncovered, which deal with these weapons.

“The documents reveal a lot about the issue of plastic bullets and the general context of the time.

“This is an important issue and we would like to see as many people as possible coming along to both events. The plaque will be unveiled at 6pm on Fahan Street and the event in the Tower Hotel will begin at 6.30pm.

“We are also mindful that the anniversary of Paul Whitters, another young person from Derry shot dead with a plastic bullet, occurs around this time and we will also be remembering that on the night,” he said.