HUNDREDS attended a march and mural unveiling in memory of the victims of plastic and rubber bullets on Saturday.

Organised by the United Campaign Against Plastic Bullets (UCAPB), the march made its way in warm summer sunshine from Divis Tower to Islandbawn Street, where a new mural was unveiled.

The mural features the names and portraits of the 17 people killed by plastic and rubber bullets at the hands of the state during the Troubles.

 

Saturday's demonstration heard a renewed call for the banning of the lethal projectiles. 

Áine McCabe, whose mother Norah was killed by a plastic bullet in July 1981, said: "Today is about remembering the 17 victims of plastic and rubber bullets, remembering their names, their faces, and the grave injustice to these men, women and children and to their families.

"I use the word victims because that's what they are - they're not rioters, or gunrunners, or troublemakers. They were murdered by the state and then their names and their families' names tarnished by the lies told by the RUC, the British Army, the British Government and by the media. No-one, no-one, has ever been held accountable for any of these people's murders, and the same sectarian police force is still using the deadly weapons on our streets, in our communities to this day. 

"We're here today, asking all of you here, all of you from our community, all of you who remember these people, these victims, to stand with us and help us in our fight to have plastic bullets banned. Not renamed, not redesigned - banned."

Frances Meehan, whose brother Michael was killed by a plastic bullet in August 1981, told the crowd: "My brother Michael was murdered 42 years ago. Others here have campaigned for justice longer, others maybe not just so long. The one thing that we all have in common is that we won't be going away until these lethal and life-changing bullets are banned and we achieve justice for our loved ones."

Mark Kelly's sister Carol Ann was killed by a plastic bullet in May 1981.

To warm applause, he paid tribute to UCAPB founders Clara Reilly and the late Emma Groves, who was blinded by a rubber bullet in her own home. 

"I think we all know that without these ladies there would be more dead on out streets," he said.

"The plastic bullet is definitely not a riot control weapon. It is a murder weapon that they use, they can tell the whole world that it's plastic, and the world looks on wondering why people are dying from plastic bullets. The reason is they're quite big, they're travelling at very high speeds, and the destruction they cause when they hit children, who haven't developed properly, whose bones haven't developed, it's so easy to murder children and that's what they were used for. They were used to oppress parents, fathers and mothers, and murder children on our streets."