Donovan Ross: 'censorship'

A television cameraman says he won't be intimidated from covering riots despite being twice hit by police water cannon in Ardoyne and believing that a PSNI officer was about to fire a plastic bullet at him.

Donovan Ross, a freelance cameraman who was working for ITN during the recent Twelfth riots, was previously hit by a plastic bullet on Portadown's Garvaghy Road in 1997. His arm was broken on that occasion.

He successfully sued the police and says he will sue again. His £30,000 (€35,800) camera was destroyed in the latest incident but the film, which will provide vital evidence, survived.

During the recent disturbances in North Belfast, Ross was determined to cover the riot from both sides. "I think the attack on me was an attempt at censorship," he says.

When Ross arrived in Ardoyne, he filmed the rioters attacking police, then the police water cannon hitting the rioters. When he began to film police lines, he was hit with the water cannon himself.

"There weren't rioters near me but I still thought it was just an accident. I cleaned the lens and continued working. I filmed a rioter being hit by a plastic bullet. I then wanted to film police firing plastic bullets. I focused on one officer who was 10 yards from me.

"I filmed him firing at a youth at eye-level. My understanding is that police shouldn't aim at the head or upper body of their target. After he fired, the officer realised I'd recorded him. He looked at me, put another bullet in the gun, and then focused his gun on me."

Ross has complained to the Police Ombudsman who is to investigate the incident.