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Boy aged 13 hit by baton round claims group

By Margaret Canning

A victims group claims a 13-year-old boy was among three people injured by baton rounds fired by police during Monday night’s rioting in north Belfast.

Relatives for Justice said the child’s family, who live in the Ardoyne area, did not want to be identified. The boy had not been taken to hospital.

The group said two others were injured, including a man who was hurt in the stomach, contrary to guidelines that baton rounds should not be fired so as to hit people above the waist.

Another man had been injured in the inner thigh by the ammunition, known as attenuating energy projectile systems (AEPs), which were introduced in 2004 as an alternative to plastic bullets.

Andree Murphy, the group’s deputy director, said the effect of AEPs on young people had not been tested by PSNI.

“This 13-year-old is small for his age, and a police officer would have known he was a child,” she said.

The solution was not Tasers or plastic baton rounds. “Police must work with community representatives to avoid riots,” she added.

A police spokesman said no report had been received of injuries on Monday night.

He added that the use of AEP systems was strictly regulated by national guidelines and all usage was referred to the Police Ombudsman.

They were used in situations of serious public disorder to reduce risk of death or serious injury or damage to property accompanied by serious risk of death or serious injury.

“Any one who is unhappy with police action should contact the office of the Police Ombudsman,” he said.

The baton rounds were introduced across the UK in 2005 as an alternative to plastic bullets, used over 35 years for crowd control in Northern Ireland.

AEPs were used by police for the first time in Ardoyne in July 2005.

Meanwhile, Alliance Party assembly member Trevor Lunn, called for an end to the violence.

“It's time that this small minority of trouble-makers let the people of the Ardoyne area live in peace.

“What sort of message does this send out across the world?

“At a time when we need to do all we can to attract investment here and deal with the economic downturn, we must not have these scenes from the past repeated nightly.

“We are trying to build a genuinely shared community for the good for everyone and events like these must not stop this vital progress.”

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