By Anne Cadwallader
BELFAST — Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam will rule within the next week on whether she believes the IRA cease-fire is holding.
She met Monday with the RUC Chief Constable and the officer commanding British troops to get their advice on the status of the cease-fires.
Unionists are demanding she declare the IRA cease-fire is over after the murder of Charles Bennett in Belfast on July 30. They say the IRA cease-fire is ambivalent as it does not preclude the IRA killing members of its own community, just members of the British Army and RUC.
Bennett was shot dead in west Belfast and although no group claimed responsibility, the IRA is being blamed by the RUC. His family have accused political parties in Northern Ireland of using the killing as a "political football" to destroy the peace process.
In a statement issued through their attorney, Bennett’s family said that, while some parties had used the death as a political football, none of those politicians had offered their condolences to the family. The family said that they hoped the killing would not be used to jeopardize the peace process.
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On her return from holiday, Mo Mowlam said there was a serious political and security situation to be faced and the continuing violence is unacceptable and could not be ignored.
On the Bennett’s murder she said it was the most recent act to disfigure the peace. Although people were saying "the dogs in the street" know who carried out the murder, she would not rely on dogs, but on the advice she received from intelligence sources. It was clear, she said, that paramilitary groups on both sides remained active.