Belfast Telegraph

Call to use seized Libyan assets to compensate the victims of IRA terror

Libyan-supplied Semtex was used in the 1987 IRA bombing of Enniskillen
Libyan-supplied Semtex was used in the 1987 IRA bombing of Enniskillen

By Dan O'Donoghue

Ministers have been urged to use seized Libyan assets to compensate the victims of Muammar Gaddafi-backed IRA terrorism.

Former Labour minister Kate Hoey told ministers they should take advantage of the £9.5bn in seized assets to pay victims who are "dying off".

Ms Hoey, who sits on the Commons' Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, said: "This has gone on far too long. There is £9.5bn sitting in our banks and if we as a United Kingdom Government cannot find a way to get some of that money to go to those people who are as we speak ill and beginning to literally die off then I think that is a shame on all of us here and a shame on this Government."

Later in the debate Tory MP James Cartlidge touched on the compensation paid to Fatima Boudchar, who was kidnapped and returned to Libya in 2004 in a joint MI6-CIA operation, to press the Government to help terror victims.

The South Suffolk MP said: "It's very timely given the statement earlier by the Attorney General which revealed, and it may be entirely justified, that a Libyan citizen wronged by this Government has today received half a million pounds of compensation."

Fellow Tory MP Laurence Robertson, who secured the debate, said: "Time is running out for many of the victims.

"Losing any loved one through natural causes is bad enough, losing someone through an accident is perhaps even more shocking, but how much worse must it be when that life has been deliberately taken such as through terrorism, but add to that grief the involvement of a foreign rogue state."

Conservative Bob Stewart said it was "indisputable" that the Gaddafi regime supplied weapons and explosives used by the Provisional IRA, and suggested that money earned in interest on the frozen accounts should be used to compensate British victims. "It is indisputable that so many innocent people have died as a result of Provisional IRA activity using Libyan-supplied arms and explosives," he said.

"It is indisputable that other nations have ensured compensation for victims of Libyan-backed terrorism and it is indisputable that huge sums of Libyan cash is frozen in London's banks."

Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt said the Government did not dispute the "basic facts".

He told MPs: "The evidence is sufficient for us to be speaking today with the confidence that Semtex and other materials supplied by the Gaddafi regime into Ireland and onto the mainland of the UK were responsible for IRA-based terror."

Over the course of 25 years, from the early 1970s, the Gaddafi regime supplied arms, funding, training and Semtex to the IRA. Libyan-supplied Semtex was used in bombings including the Harrods department store attack in 1983 and the Enniskillen Remembrance Day blast in 1987.

Last year the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee called for a "fresh approach" to secure compensation for victims.

However, the Government did not accept the committee's recommendations.

Belfast Telegraph


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