Belfast Telegraph

Omagh families want share of Libyan payout

By Noel McAdam

The Omagh bomb victims should be entitled to compensation from the new Libyan government, a leading campaigner has said.

Michael Gallagher said the Omagh families do not form part of the legal action taken against the country which has led to speculation over a possible £450m compensation deal.

"For some unknown reason we were not included in that, and yet there is really no reason why we should not have been," Mr Gallagher said last night.

The legal action in the United States against former Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi relating to 147 victims is being led by lawyer Jason McCue, who is best known for taking a compensation case against alleged Real IRA leaders over the 29 victims of the Omagh bombing in 1998.

In a meeting in Benghazi earlier this year discussions were said to include a $1.5bn - the equivalent of almost £1bn - payment for development projects in Northern Ireland, including encouraging agricultural exports to Libya, as well as $300m (£188m) for projects to benefit victims and the community.

These would have been on top of compensation for individual victims of terrorism, from which the 'gold standard' was set by the ex-gratia payment made by the Libyan government to the families of US victims of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie in 1988.

Each family received more than $7.5m (£4.7m).

A document from the Benghazi talks, entitled Statement of Reconciliation to the Victims of Gaddafi Sponsored Terrorism, hinted at $3m (£1.8m) each for the 147 people injured by Libyan-supplied explosives and weaponry involved in bringing the US case. The Libyan document also expressed, however, a "sincere desire" to settle claims from UK and Irish victims "on a parity and non-discrimination basis, in line with other US victim claimants in the same action".

Mr Gallagher, who lost his son Aiden in the Real IRA atrocity, said: "We have pretty much been kept in the dark about all of this.

"But I think it is important that there should be compensation for all the victims who suffered as a result of the intervention by Gaddafi in the terrorism in Northern Ireland, but we don't really know how all of this is going to pan out."

Semtex, the explosive which only the IRA had possession of at the time, was involved as a booster in the device which exploded in Omagh, and was supplied along with AK47 rifles by the Gaddafi regime.

A group of politicians from Northern Ireland, likely to include DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds as well as victims campaigner Willie Frazer, may travel to Libya in the next few weeks for fresh compensation talks.

Prime Minister David Cameron has also pledged to make the compensation issue for victims of Libyan-sponsored terrorism a priority.

The Provisionals used Libyan-supplied explosives in the attacks on Harrods in London and Warrington as well as dozens of attacks in Northern Ireland.

Belfast Telegraph


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