Belfast Telegraph

Government 'must do more' for Libya Semtex victims

By Lauren Harte

The Government has been criticised for a lack of detail and momentum in its plan for compensating victims of Libyan-sponsored IRA terrorism.

MPs on the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee (NIAC) heard this week that the value of the impounded cash had risen to £12bn.

Government witnesses have admitted parts of the fund had performed poorly because of international restrictions.

The NIAC has held lengthy hearings with victims of IRA bombings which used Libyan Semtex plastic explosives, such as the 1987 Poppy Day attack in Enniskillen.

The bereaved and injured are pressing for UK Government support in their campaign to have compensation paid out of the frozen assets seized from the toppled Gaddafi administration.

Committee chair Dr Andrew Murrison said he was "gravely disappointed" at the lack of momentum in the Government's plan as Minister for International Development Alastair Burt updated MPs on progress.

Dr Murrison urged the Government to commit to a timeline for compensating victims.

"The use of Gaddafi-supplied Semtex in IRA attacks led to catastrophic human suffering, and many victims are simply unable to move beyond the horrors of their experiences," the Conservative MP said. "My committee is gravely disappointed in the UK Government's continued failure to secure compensation for these victims. We fear they are treading water while victims continue to suffer," he added.

"The UK Government must urgently commit to a timeline for providing compensation to victims, either through agreement with the Libyan authorities or through direct funding from the Treasury."

Mr Burt has committed to providing a timeline setting out the department's plan for securing compensation for victims before Christmas 2018.

Ulster Unionist peer Lord Empey said he is appalled at the attitude of the Government and accused it of "washing its hands of the matter".

He told the News Letter he is now convinced that "a secret deal" was done between Tony's Blair government and Libya.

"I have always believed that there was a secret deal between the Blair government and Libya.

"The responses at the select committee reinforce my view that this is the case. There is something rotten going on here. It stinks," he added.

Belfast Telegraph

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