Belfast Telegraph

DUP could have struck Libyan cash deal as part of its Tory pact, says Jim Allister

By Adrian Rutherford

The DUP has been accused of missing an opportunity to secure compensation for victims of Libyan-sponsored IRA terrorism.

TUV leader Jim Allister said it should have been part of the party's deal with the Conservatives after the June election.

It emerged on Friday that the Government had rejected a call for a UK reparations fund for those affected by Semtex supplied by former Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi.

The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, which had called for the compensation scheme, said the response was unacceptable.

And Mr Allister said the DUP had wasted a chance to pressure the Government into action.

"The Government is saying this is a matter for civil litigation, but that is not the attitude which the American government took," he said.

"The American government went in to bat for their people and got them compensation, and I would expect no less from the British Government.

"The DUP had the leverage to get the Government to that point and they should have used it."

The Gaddafi regime supplied arms, funding, training and Semtex to the IRA for some 25 years.

Libyan-supplied Semtex was used in bombings including Harrods department store in London in 1983; the Enniskillen Poppy Day blast in 1987 and Warrington in 1993. In May a report by the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee criticised the failure of successive UK governments to pursue compensation from Libya on behalf of the victims of Gaddafi-sponsored terrorism.

MPs called for a reparations fund if no progress was made with the Libyan authorities.

However, the Government response, published on Friday, rejected the recommendations.

It said: "HMG has considered in detail the feasibility of establishing such a fund and at this stage has concluded that it is not a viable option."

Mr Allister added: "This campaign has been ongoing for a long time.

"It's clear that the Government has been resisting full engagement and dealing with issues like the assets of Libya, which are in London.

"So it occurred to me - and I'm sure a lot of people - that when you have leverage, that is one of the issues on which it should have been used.

"I think victims are let down by the failure to do this."

The DUP did not respond to a request for comment.

The rejection of a compensation fund drew criticism from MPs, campaigners and victims of IRA violence.

Jonathan Ganesh, a survivor of the 1996 Docklands bomb, said: "This is perhaps one of the worst injustices in the history of the United Kingdom.

"What the UK Government has done is shameful, they expect victims, many of whom have suffered severe trauma, are in wheelchairs, suffer PTSD and have colostomy bags, to take on the Libyan government."

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph