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Libya compensation Bill for IRA victims passes Lords

Bill: Lord Empey
Bill: Lord Empey

By Allan Preston

Compensation for victims of Libyan-sponsored IRA terrorism has moved a step closer with an Ulster Unionist-sponsored Bill now set for the House of Commons.

UUP peer Lord Empey introduced the Bill, which has now passed its final stage in the House of Lords.

"For over a decade I have been fighting a battle to get compensation for victims who suffered as a result of the supply of Semtex and weapons to the IRA by former Libyan leader Colonel Gadaffi," he said.

The Bill was supposed to appear before the Commons in 2016 but was delayed by a general election. Lord Empey claimed the Government had deliberately killed it by dragging its heels.

"This is a significant milestone on a long, hard road for victims of IRA terrorism," Lord Empey said.

He added that US, German and French Governments had all managed to secure similar compensation.

"The Bill I brought through the House of Lords is designed to rectify that, but it needs to pass through the House of Commons to have effect.

"There is £9.5bn of frozen Libyan assets in London, an enormous sum. The Bill empowers the Treasury to get access to those funds to utilise for the benefit of victims, with the approval of the United Nations and the EU who imposed the freeze. So far the UK has not even bothered to ask for help from either to do so. That in itself says it all."

He questioned if a deal with Libya by the Blair Government had caused the inaction.

"If this Conservative Government does not want to be placed in the same category as the Blair Government, then the victims need to see actions.

"The Government has a moral obligation and a duty of care to its citizens. They have been repeatedly failed and let down by previous UK Governments. If this Government fails to act, then the same words of failure will be written on its epitaph."

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