Statement by the Minster for Foreign Affairs, Brian Cowen, T.D. on the Use of Baton Rounds in Northern Ireland
The Minister for Foreign Affairs welcomed the announcement today by the British Government that the baton round would no longer be used after the end of this year, in the event that an acceptable, effective and less lethal alternative becomes available.
Minister Cowen also welcomed their intention to expedite the work of the research programme into less lethal alternatives to the baton round, a programme which was recommended by the Patten Commission.
“This is a significant announcement which places on record the British Government's intention to end the use of baton rounds within the year, if possible. It is also a timely development, given the very serious concerns voiced by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission yesterday about the safety of baton rounds and shortcomings in the systems of accountability governing their usage.”
“The Government shares these concerns. Since their introduction in the early 1970s, we have had grave reservations about the use of baton rounds in public order situations in Northern Ireland and, more so, in the light of the fatalities and serious injuries caused.”
“As Patten recognised, this has been the most controversial aspect of policing. It has undoubtedly contributed to the deep alienation of many in the nationalist community from the police. This is only now being overcome through the progressive implementation of the Patten reforms. Today's announcement will bolster this process.”
“We can now realistically look forward to the day when baton rounds will no longer be used on the streets of Northern Ireland.”Top