Belfast Telegraph

Friday 1 August 2014

MPs head for Libya to push ‘IRA deal’

A delegation of MPs is preparing to head to Libya to press the case for compensation for IRA victims.

Jeffrey Donaldson met with Foreign Office officials yesterday over plans to take a cross-party group to Tripoli for face-to-face talks with Libyan authorities after hints earlier this week that a deal could be reached.

Colonel Gadaffi supplied arms and explosives to the IRA at the height of the Troubles and campaigners launched a class action for compensation.

The British government has been hesitant in its support of the bid, although the group was given fresh hope of success earlier this year after a meeting with Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Scotland’s decision to release Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi renewed focus on the campaign and Libyan officials have since hinted that talks between Tripoli and London are progressing.

Mr Donaldson, DUP MP, said: “The meeting was to discuss the logistics of a cross-party delegation going to Tripoli.

“We appreciate the assistance the Foreign Office can offer. We are planning to meet with minister Ivan Lewis in a couple of weeks to discuss the police issues surrounding our case.

“We believe it's important that the Libyan government hears first hand why they have a moral obligation to the victims of the IRA.

“Many towns and cities across the UK were badly damaged by the Semtex they supplied and hundreds of lives lost.

“If it is deemed right by our own government that the Lockerbie bomber should be released then surely it's right that the Libyan government should show compassion to the victims of the terrorists they supplied.

“Recent allegations that the government felt it was not in the UK's strategic interest to keep the Lockerbie bomber detained in jail have damaged people's perception of the government. They have an opportunity to prove that justice for UK citizens and not access to oil is their primary concern.”

Mr Donaldson will tell the Libyan government that without Colonel Gadaffi's help the IRA would not have been able to wage its campaign of terror and crime on anything like the scale it did.

The delegation is also expected to include Nigel Dodds, Labour MP Andrew Mackinlay and Conservative Daniel Kawczynski.

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