A MAN who lost an eye after being struck by a plastic bullet has been awarded £100,000 in an out-of-court settlement with the RUC. Martin Joseph Toner from Keady, Co Armagh, was injured during a disturbance in the town in July 1996 after a van containing loyalist bandsmen was allowed through a police checkpoint. Local people, who had gathered to prevent Orange Order marchers entering the town, were then confronted by an RUC mobile support unit who fired 12 plastic bullet rounds at them. Mr Toner (27) was struck on the head and his left eye later had to be removed by surgeons. He said last night: “I am pleased with the award but at the end of the day it will not bring my sight back. “I would much rather see the police officer responsible disciplined or charged.” His solicitor, Eamann McMenamin of Madden & Finucane, has now won £325,000 for Protestants and Catholics injured by plastic bullets fired by the RUC, mainly over the last three July periods. Mr McMenamin said: “Quite apart from the seriousness of the injuries sustained, which could have been fatal in Mr Toner’s case, what worries me most is the unaccountability of RUC officers in relation to the plastic bullet rounds fired.” The four officers involved in firing the plastic bullets in Keady all gave detailed accounts of who they fired at, who they hit, and who they missed. “Not one of the accounts described Mr Toner which means that if he had died none of the officers could have been charged with his murder because it could not have been proved who fired the fatal bullet,” Mr McMenamin said. “As long as RUC officers know they cannot be identified when they fire plastic bullets they will continue to abuse their powers. “There is also a serious question mark over whether plastic bullets were ever required in this situation.” Mr McMenamin also represented ex-army man Michael Cosby, a Protestant who won £115,000 after losing his eye in a similar incident. The solicitor said he was concerned at the “cheque-book litigation” mentality that was developing in the RUC. “The RUC just have to sign the cheque and the compensation, which comes out of taxpayers pockets, is paid,” he said. “The taxpayer will be forking out in excess of £500,000 in the cases I am involved in alone, for plastic bullet related incidents, and yet not one policeman has been disciplined or charged in relation to them.” Mr Toner was a machine operator before he lost his eye and he had to be moved to a different position within the firm he worked for after the attack. His injuries led to him losing his job in May 1998 and he has not worked since. Mr McMenamin said: “I asked my client if he wanted to pursue a complaint against the RUC with the Independent Commission for Police Complaints but he decided it would be a waste of his and his solicitor’s time and only lend credibility to a complaint procedure which has been found to be fundamentally flawed.”