Belfast Telegraph

Tony Blair blasted for lack of compensation to the victims of IRA’s Libyan Semtex

By Rebecca Black

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair was yesterday accused of treating IRA victims differently to victims of other terror groups.

Mr Blair was giving evidence to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee about his reopening of diplomatic ties with Libya's Colonel Gaddafi, who supplied Semtex to groups including the IRA.

Explosives from Libya were also linked to the 1986 bombing of a West Berlin club frequented by US troops that killed three people, and the 1988 Pan Am Flight 103 from London to New York that exploded over Lockerbie, killing 259 people on board and 11 people on the ground.

Victims of these atrocities secured compensation from Gaddafi's administration in 2008, but IRA victims were left out.

Mr Blair told the committee: "We didn't hold back on Lockerbie or Yvonne Fletcher. On the contrary, we got the compensation."

Mr Blair was accused of "dodging" a question about whether victims of IRA bombs using Libyan Semtex deserved compensation. A number of people hurt by the IRA, who were in the gallery, blasted his performance as a "whitewash".

Suzanne Dodd (39), whose father was killed in the Harrods bombing, voiced her disgust that Mr Blair posed for selfies with members of the public before his evidence was heard. She added: "We have had no compensation whatsoever. He should now go to the Northern Ireland Committee."

Martyn Holgate, a former Met officer who suffered a broken neck and shrapnel injuries in the same bombing, said he was disappointed Mr Blair had not faced tougher questioning. The 54-year-old added: "He got away from the question by just brushing it aside. I kind of expected it."

Also sitting in on the evidence was DUP MP Gavin Robinson, who called for Mr Blair to give evidence to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee in person rather than through a written statement, as is currently planned. "It is wholly unacceptable that a distinction would be drawn between different victims of terrorism in the United Kingdom," he said.

"Those who suffered at the hands of Libyan-supplied weapons used by the IRA are no different to other victims.

"It is also wrong for Mr Blair to state that all IRA victims already have access to compensation. This is not the case for victims of IRA attacks in Birmingham, Hyde Park, Warrington, Chelsea Barracks, Brighton or the dozens of other incidents which all took place on the mainland.

"I would hope that, in light of this, Mr Blair will now be called before the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee so that we might scrutinise him in further detail about the victims of Libyan-sponsored IRA violence.

"Victims of terrorism from all parts of the United Kingdom deserve to be treated properly.

"Whether the incident happened in Belfast or Birmingham should not matter, the suffering was the same."

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