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Compensation inquiry for victims of Libyan-sponsored IRA violence

Published 22/07/2015

The inquiry is expected to be announced formally on Friday. Above: Former Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi delivers an address to the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters September 23, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
The inquiry is expected to be announced formally on Friday. Above: Former Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi delivers an address to the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters September 23, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Former Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi supplied large amounts of weaponry, including the explosive Semtex, to the IRA

Victims of Libyan-sponsored IRA violence are to be invited to give evidence to an inquiry by a Westminster committee looking into the possibility of compensation.

The inquiry by the cross-party House of Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee is expected to last about two weeks in September and is likely also to call figures from the UK Government.

Libya has already provided compensation in relation to the Lockerbie bombing, and some victims of Northern Ireland's Troubles argue they too should receive financial packages from the north African state because its former ruler Muammar Gaddafi supplied large amounts of weaponry, including the explosive Semtex, to the IRA.

It has been suggested that compensation could be obtained from frozen assets belonging to the dictator, who was ousted and killed in 2011, and his family.

In response to a question from DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson last week, Prime Minister David Cameron told the Commons that the British authorities "have raised with the Libyan Government in the past the issue of trying to seek compensation, and when there is a Libyan Government - there is not yet one in place - we will certainly raise it again".

The committee - made up of four Conservative backbenchers, three Labour MPs, two from the DUP and one each from the UUP and SDLP and an Independent - will produce a report containing recommendations for action, but these are not binding on the Government. The inquiry is expected to be announced formally on Friday.

Jason McCue, senior partner of lawyers McCue & Partners, who represent the victims, said: "Three successive UK Prime Ministers have failed to resolve this for the victim claimants, whereas other foreign governments, the US included, have all enabled their own claimant victims to receive just compensation from Libya.

"For almost seven years, we have never received a satisfactory explanation or positioning from the UK Government that stands up to any form of scrutiny. We sincerely hope the inquiry probes deeply, provides the necessary answers that the victims deserve and thereby helps them to get parity of treatment with similar victims, of other nationalities, of the Gaddafi regime."

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