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Thursday, August 5, 1999 Published at 23:59 GMT 00:59 UK


SDLP questions IRA ceasefire

Nationalists are now questioning the state of the IRA ceasefire

The nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party in Northern Ireland has called for a statement from the authorities on whether the murder of a Belfast taxi driver shows the IRA ceasefire has been broken.

It asked "those who are in possession of the broadest range of information" to state whether the republican paramilitary ceasefire was holding.

The Search for Peace
In a statement on Friday morning, the SDLP said: "There is genuine concern within the communities about ongoing violence which, it is being alleged, is the responsibility of paramilitary organisations which are supposed to be on ceasefire.

"The SDLP has publicly stated its particular concerns about the recent murder in West Belfast.

"As with other incidents, the SDLP has called upon the governments to make and assessment based on the information made available to them."

Since July, when the Northern Ireland parties failed to agree to set up a devolved government, both republican and loyalist groups have accused each other of being active.

[ image: Charles Bennett was shot on the Falls Road last weekend]
Charles Bennett was shot on the Falls Road last weekend
But the paramilitary execution-style murder of 22-year-old Charles Bennett, who was found bound and shot on the nationalist Falls Road in Belfast last week, has caused a storm of calls for a statement from the Northern Ireland police chief and the Northern Ireland Secretary.

The Irish government is said to believe that the IRA ceasefire is intact, it wants to hear an assessment from the British government and the security forces.

Ulster Unionist MP Jeffrey Donaldson and UK Unionist Party leader Robert McCartney have called for a statement on the murder this week.

They said that Sinn Fein, the IRA's political wing, should be excluded from the review of the Northern Ireland peace process due to begin in September.

At the weekend, David Ervine, a leading member of the Progressive Unionist Party, which has links with loyalist paramilitaries, said the murder was seen as proof that the IRA ceasefire was "unravelling".

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05 Aug 99 | UK
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