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UK Government accused of 'appalling failure' over Shawcross report into IRA victims of Libyan arms

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Devastated: Aftermath of the London Docklands bombing in 1996, in which the IRA used explosives supplied by Libya

Devastated: Aftermath of the London Docklands bombing in 1996, in which the IRA used explosives supplied by Libya

Devastated: Aftermath of the London Docklands bombing in 1996, in which the IRA used explosives supplied by Libya

The DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds has accused the UK Government of an “appalling failure of transparency”, after they ruled out using frozen Libyan assets to compensate IRA victims.

It comes as the author of the report into the issue, WIlliam Shawcross, declared himself "surprised and disappointed" following the UK Government's statement on Tuesday.

Mr Shawcross was appointed to help inform the Government's approach to issues surrounding former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's regime and how it supplied large amounts of weapons to the IRA during the Troubles.

Speaking to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee after he was summoned to appear on Wednesday morning, Mr Shawcross said he had been told of the decision "very shortly beforehand".

"I am aware of course of the agony of people's expectations in Northern Ireland. It was brought home to me throughout my six months working on this, that the raised expectations and disappointed expectations over this over years and years is a terrible thing in Northern Ireland.

"I had wished and hoped to speak to victims but because it was only a scoping exercise, I was strongly advised from people in Northern Ireland whom I respected, not to approach victims themselves directly... as that would add too much to people's expectations. That I was going to provide a complete answer."

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Nigel Dodds was speaking after the UK Government rejected calls to publish a report authored by Sir William Shawcross in 2020 which was examining options to compensate victims.

Speaking to the BBC, the former north Belfast MP said it was “simply incomprehensible”, after the Minister for the Middle East and North Africa James Cleverly said the report was only an “internal scoping report” and was meant for “private and confidential conversations”.

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Nigel Dodds

Nigel Dodds

Nigel Dodds

“That was never the purpose of the report when Shawcross was originally appointed,” said Nigel Dodds.

“I think they do now need to come clean on what is in this report that they are so afraid of the public and MPs having sight of."

He also suggested that the report has possibly “exposed the embarrassment” of the UK Government in not dealing with the issue prior to 2020.

“I think it is really an issue where issue that William Shawcross has put the spotlight on the Government and the Government don’t want to answer the hard questions,” he added.

“The Government's failure to publish the Shawcross report, which has been on its desk since May of 2020, is really an appalling failure of transparency.”

Kenny Donaldson, a spokesperson for the Innocent Victims United group, said victims have been “frustrated and angry” following the decision.

“The UK is very fast being dubbed a nation around the world that is seen as soft on terrorism, soft on terrorism domestically and soft on terrorism internationally,” suggested Mr Donaldson

“Other states around the world have treated victims right in these issues. We have a situation here, where in our own nation... we have not pursued these issues with the same vigour.”

Adding that it was a “disgraceful situation”, he said he was calling for the UK Government to “pull back from the brink”.

“I think it is remarkable that we are even having this discussion. The way the state behaves around victims...is beyond words,” he added.

“What is it going to take? Is it going to take victims and survivors once again coming out on to the streets?

“This issue is not separate from the wider legacy issues of our past. For 25 years now, victims and survivors have absorbed the burden on behalf of wider society.”

Belfast Telegraph


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