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Tuesday, August 10, 1999 Published at 20:28 GMT 21:28 UK

Special Report

Murder victim's family anger at politicans

Charles Bennett was found dead near the Falls Road

The family of a taxi driver murdered in west Belfast two weeks ago have accused some of Northern Ireland's main parties of using him as a political football.

In a statement through their solicitors McCann and McCann, the Bennett family said that ''certain political parties in Northern Ireland'' had only added to the pain of trying to come to terms with Charles Bennett's death.

They also called on the politicians not to use his death to jeopardise the peace process.

[ image: Family trying to come to terms with Charles Bennett's death]
Family trying to come to terms with Charles Bennett's death
The family's solicitors said: ''Both the immediate and extended family of Charles Bennett, deceased, are at present trying to come to terms with his untimely death.

"Their grief has been compounded by the fact that certain political parties in Northern Ireland, through their representatives are intent on using Charles' death as a 'political football' to score points against their opponents.''

Charles Bennett, 22, was found bound and shot on waste ground behind a social club on the mainly nationalist Falls Road on 30 July in what police described as ''paramilitary style execution''.

There were immediate demands for a statement from the RUC Chief Constable Ronne Flanagan, and the Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam, following the shooting, to clarify who was to blame for the murder.

Unionists, who suspect the IRA was behind the attack, called for Sinn Fein to be excluded from the political process.

Family's abhorrence

But the family's solicitors said the Bennetts had been hurt that the politicians had used the murder to make political gains while not offering any condolences.

They said: ''It is of note that whilst using Charles' death in this way none of the political parties have offered their condolences nor sympathy to the Bennett family.''

"The Bennett family wish to express firstly their abhorrence at the way in which Charles' death has been used in this way, and secondly to confirm their support for the peace process in Northern Ireland and the hope that Charles' death will not be used in any way to jeopardise this process."

The Search for Peace
After the murder, Ulster Unionist MP Jeffrey Donaldson and UK Unionist Party leader Robert McCartney called for Sinn Fein to be excluded from the review of the Northern Ireland peace process due to begin in September.

David Ervine, a leading member of the Progressive Unionist Party, which has links with loyalist paramilitaries, said the shooting showed that the IRA ceasefire was "unravelling".

The nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party called on the Northern Ireland authorities to say whether the IRA ceasefire had been broken.

A 45 year old man appeared at Belfast Magistrates Court on Monday accused of murdering Mr Bennett.

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Regions Contents


Northern Ireland



Relevant Stories

04 Aug 99 | UK
Recriminations over murder of taxi driver

03 Aug 99 | UK Politics
No quick decision on IRA ceasefire

31 Jul 99 | UK
Murder prompts fears for IRA ceasefire

30 Jul 99 | UK
Paramilitary link to murder

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