Sinn Fein backs ‘minimum force’ on shoot-to-kill of terror suspects

An armed police officer at the scene of the terror attack in London on June 3
An armed police officer at the scene of the terror attack in London on June 3

Sinn Fein emphasised guidelines on the use of “minimum force” when asked whether they would support a ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy by the PSNI in the event of a terror attack.

The party, which has long spoken out against instances of ‘shoot-to-kill’ against IRA men in Northern Ireland, said “any use of force must be proportionate and necessary in the circumstances”.

In London last Saturday, the bloodshed inflicted on the general public by three Islamist extremists was brought to an end when armed police shot the killers dead.

The News Letter asked each of Northern Ireland’s five largest political parties whether they would support “the use of lethal force by police in Northern Ireland in order to protect the public in the event of a terror attack”, with specific reference to the attack in London on June 3.

Rather than answer the question directly, a Sinn Fein spokesperson said: “Any use of force must be proportionate and necessary in the circumstances.

“The PSNI has specific guidelines on how to use minimum force and is accountable to the office of the Police Ombudsman.

“Policing powers must always be in line with international human rights norms and those using those powers must have human rights training.”

The UUP, meanwhile, gave a forthright view.

Doug Beattie MLA said: “On Saturday night the police shot dead three terrorists who murdered at least seven people and injured scores more on the capital’s streets.

“Anyone who suggests they should have been taken alive or should not have been shot at all is being fanciful.

“Shoot-to-kill was the right thing to do under the circumstances.

“If a terrorist is killed while planning or conducting a terrorist operation there should be no recourse against the man or woman who did it in the legitimate course of protecting their country.”

A spokesperson for the Alliance Party, meanwhile, said they support the “proportionate and legitimate use of force where necessary as a last resort”.

The party spokesperson added: “What happened this past weekend in London was not a shoot-to-kill policy but rather action required to save the lives of members of the public and the police in the face of an imminent and clear threat.”

The DUP and SDLP had yet to respond to the News Letter’s queries.