Campaign welcomes lRA statement

29th July 2005

Campaign welcomes lRA statement

The much welcomed statement from the IRA outlining its future will
raise many questions for the other actors to the conflict and the
potential role they must play to ensure a lasting peace settlement.

there is no doubt the IRA has/d significant armoury at its disposal the
British government has many branches to its armoury. Most obviously is
the vast militarisation of nationalist and republican communities, and
the continuation of its covert war, and the continued arming of the
PSNI with plastic bullets. Less obvious, but more effective, are its
weapons in the "system". Some recent examples are the use of an
unaccountable inquest system where the state itself was responsible or
implicated in killings, the continued threat of the use of public
interest immunity certificates in these courts, the continued dark
force of unaccountability in the office of the Director of Public
Prosecutions, the ever pervasive influence of Special Branch within the
PSNI, and the farcical idea of key Special Branch figures reviewing
past killings, including killings in which the state itself was
responsible or implicated.

The British Government interferes
with all areas of due process when its role in the conflict is up for
examination. The disgraceful interference in the Finucane Inquiry and
the introduction of the Inquiries Bill is a damning example of how
thoroughly the British government closes down systems of justice and
accountability when it feels threatened. The new impetus and
environment created by the IRA's initiative must be used to ensure that
the system is made accountable and that British interest can no longer
take precedence over transparency and due process.

Part of
this will be the creation of an inclusive and transparent process for
acknowledging and dealing with our collective past. Many lessons will
be learned from such a process, which will inform the future societal
structure. All actors must grapple with this issue, especially the
British government. The past cannot strangle our future but must inform
it for peace to be sustained. Not only that, but the victims of past
actions must have accountability and truth in order that they also can
have a stake in the future.

Policing will be key debate in the
coming weeks. Consent, support and participation are the key
requirements to acceptable policing. These are currently missing. Key
reasons are because truth and acknowledgment about shoot-to-kill,
collusion and the use of plastic bullets are missing. There is an
overwhelming legacy of impunity for state killings. Substantial change
is required, and it must be based upon the lessons of our past.

use of plastic bullets remains an outstanding issue and need to be
removed now. The new PSNI cannot rely on old military tactics if it is
to win the support and confidence of the nationalist community. Plastic
bullets are an old military tactic. As we saw in Ardoyne so recently,
plastic bullets are a weapon of political control. They pose horrific
threat to innocent civilians. Modifications to this weapon make
negligible difference. Tests done by the British government's
scientists cannot include an assessment of their impact on children,
because they are too dangerous to test on children. But they introduced
the weapon anyway under the guise of complying with the Patten Report.

the seventeen fatalities caused by plastic bullets nine of the victims
were children, innocent victims killed in circumstances which were
excused and covered up with words very like those used when current
justification of plastic bullets are made. Millions of pounds of
compensation have been paid to the living victims of plastic bullets
who have suffered injuries which range from scarring, broken limbs,
damaged and removed organs, blindness, to brain damage. Again a
disproportionately high number of those compensated were children when

New thinking on all areas of transition must include
new thinking on policing methods. We are often asked, "well what's the
alternative" – and the people who ask us want another form of military
technology with which to bolster an arms dealer's coffers.

course we have never thought that there are military solutions or
technologies which will provide resolution. Military policing methods
are not what is needed. Dialogue (as we saw in Dunloy on 12th July),
containment (such as we saw this week in East Belfast with the
UVF/LVF), and community policing (which we all so desperately need on
our streets and which projects like Community Restorative Justice
highlight the potential) are the long-term answers.

These are
far from easy solutions. They require much more patience, resources,
training, planning and foresight. But they are the policing tactics
that will win support and confidence.

Next week the families
of the victims of plastic bullets will hold their annual vigil at the
site of the former Andersonstown Barracks in Belfast. This vigil
reminds us of the terrible price of the use of plastic bullets, it also
reminds us that no one has been held accountable for these crimes. The
demand for a ban on the use of plastic bullets is reiterated by all who
attend. With the physical absence of the Barracks this space will be
changed, for a change to policing to be meaningful much more needs to
be done to give these families real peace i.e. a ban on plastic
bullets, truth and acknowledgment. We encourage all to join us next
Wednesday 3rd August at 6.30pm to make this demand heard at this
historic time.

Clara Reilly


Relatives for Justice

United Campaign Against Plastic Bullets