IRA compensation bid may be boosted
Published 22/08/2011 | 17:22
The fall of Muammar Gaddafi's regime could help MPs secure compensation for Libya's past support for the IRA, it has been claimed.
Northern Ireland politicians have pressed the Libyan government since 2009 for recognition of the human cost of Gaddafi's decision to ship tonnes of arms and explosives to the IRA.
The campaigners have also held discussions with officials linked to the war-torn country's prospective new government.
Prime Minister David Cameron said the Libyan dictator's regime was in retreat, with the vast majority of Tripoli in rebel hands.
The Democratic Unionist Party's Nigel Dodds welcomed the turn of events, but said: "However, in the midst of the celebrations in Libya, we must also remember the victims of Gaddafi-sponsored IRA terrorism.
"In Ulster, and throughout the United Kingdom, we suffered over many decades from the appalling consequences of IRA terrorism, heavily funded and sponsored by rogue states such as Libya. Fuelled by a hatred of Britain, Colonel Gaddafi supplied the Provisional IRA with weapons and cash for many years."
Party colleague Jeffrey Donaldson said discussions had taken place with the alternative Libyan government, and he argued the potential handover of power would not derail the compensation hopes.
Mr Donaldson said: "We are not starting from scratch with a potential new government, we have a memorandum of understanding with them."
Mr Dodds added: "As a result of Libya's prolonged and persistent support for the IRA, many innocent men, women and children are dead, and their relatives scarred, physically and psychologically, for life. We may be living in more peaceful times in Ulster today, but those scars will never heal, and the victims must never be forgotten.
"The fall of the Gaddafi regime will signal a new phase to our campaign for compensation from Libya. The Parliamentary delegation will continue its work and will be engaging with any government which is put in place. The fall of Gaddafi will not end our campaign."