Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Stormont row flares over Libya campaign

A bid to obtain Libyan compensation for victims of IRA violence has left members of the Assembly at loggerheads.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams accused unionists of seeking to establish a hierarchy of suffering.

But the DUP accused republicans of being “morally incontinent” after they opposed a motion calling on the UK Government to apply diplomatic pressure on Tripoli.

Successive governments have already raised the issue of Libyan support for the IRA — including the supply of Semtex which was used by bomb-makers in their campaign of terror in the 1980s and 1990s — over the past two decades.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown added his voice to the chorus of demands for reparations from Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

Mr Adams said: “It would have been better if the members putting this motion had consulted with the other parties to bring forward a motion which would have united us rather than divided us and which would have reflected the suffering of all victims.

“This motion suggests that there's a hierarchy of victims and that is wrong.

“The only way the political parties in particular, and society in general, can deal with these issues is on the basis of equality of treatment for all and this motion fails on this most important hurdle.”

He said political leadership was needed from all parties, but claimed the motion displayed hypocrisy in asking the British Government to apply diplomatic pressure on Libya when it had been complicit in state violence.

DUP Assembly member Alex Easton criticised Sinn Fein's stance. “This isn't time to listen to the arguments of the republican movement who are morally incontinent,” he said.

“They may as well attempt to push water up a hill than seek to prevent the innocent victims of their terrorism being compensated by those who supplied their tools.”

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey said his party would continue its solidarity with those who suffered because of Libyan collusion with the IRA.

“Gaddafi's support, however, does not in any way absolve those who undertook the terrorist campaign in Northern Ireland. Gaddafi provided the weapons but the triggers were pulled, the bombs planted and the murder undertaken by people much closer to home,” he said.

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