Belfast Telegraph

Libya cash for victims of IRA not raised: Tony Blair

By Rebecca Black

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has insisted that the issue of IRA victims seeking compensation from Libya was never raised with him.

In a letter to Laurence Robertson, the chair of the NI Affairs Committee, Mr Blair again declined an invitation to appear before it, instead supplying written evidence.

Victims have accused the former PM of seeking to prevent UK victims of Libyan-sponsored terrorism from receiving compensation, despite the fact the victims of Lockerbie and the family of Constable Yvonne Fletcher received payouts.

Mr Blair said the issue of IRA victims getting cash was never put to him, and he did not mention it to former US President George Bush. "I declined your request to appear before the committee because, having accepted your earlier invitation to provide written evidence, I had already given you the facts of the matter," Mr Blair wrote.

"As I said then, repeating in person the information I have provided would not achieve any advance in the cause of the victims and their families."

Mr Blair also denied keeping notes of discussions with Colonel Gaddafi and President Bush.

East Belfast DUP MP Gavin Robinson urged the committee to use its power to force Mr Blair to attend to give evidence and be questioned.

"The latest correspondence from Tony Blair to the committee is another pathetic response from a former Prime Minister," Mr Robinson said.

"Once again he is attempting to wash his hands of all responsibility for the victims of Libyan-sponsored IRA terrorism, despite knowing that compensation was being paid to other victims of Libyan terrorism.

"The committee has the power to compel Mr Blair to appear before the inquiry, and in light of this latest reply I believe the chairman would be fully justified in issuing that summons." A large group of IRA victims are seeking compensation from the Libyan authorities.

Links between the IRA and Muammar Gaddafi go back to the early 1970s.

The first proven connection was in 1973, when the Irish Navy boarded a ship off the Irish coast and found five tonnes of weapons supplied by the north African nation.

Libyan arms were used by the IRA to carry out some of its most devastating attacks of the 1980s and 1990s, including the Poppy Day bomb in Enniskillen in 1987, the Ballygawley bus bomb in 1988 and the Docklands bomb in 1996.

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