Belfast Telegraph

Gaddafi-backed terror victims let down again

Editor's Viewpoint

Once again the victims of terrorism have been cruelly let down.

This time it is not the fault of local politicians who cannot agree the way forward on legacy issues, but instead it's the fault of the Government.

It has turned down recommendations from an all-party committee to seek compensation for those killed or injured as a result of Libyan arms and explosives shipments to the IRA in the 1970s and 1980s.

The Government has not only declined to use its political or financial clout to force the Libyans to pay up for the sins of former dictator Gaddafi, but outrageously said it would not be in the national interest to go down that route.

The American government did not take that attitude when it forced Libya to hand over $1.5bn (£1.1bn) dollars in compensation for the deaths of its citizens in terrorist outrages such as the Lockerbie aircraft bombing.

But the UK Government, whose prime duty should be the safeguarding of its citizens, obviously takes a different view, even though the recommendations came from MPs of all parties.

It should be remembered that Gaddafi sent tons of arms and explosives to the IRA during the Troubles. That arsenal was used to deadly effect to kill hundreds of civilians, police officers and members of the security forces.

The explosives were also used to devastating effect in England, blowing up large scale financial targets.

Hamida Bashir's son was killed in one of those explosions at the Docklands in London in 1996. Her response to the Government's refusal to seek a compensation scheme for other victims should make the Prime Minister and her advisers hang their heads in shame. The Government, she said, has broken her heart.

Northern Ireland-born MP Kate Hoey, a member of the all-party committee, was equally scathing of the decision and others have been equally vociferous in their condemnation.

But should we really be surprised at this outcome? The victims of terrorism on these islands have been let down by successive Governments at Westminster on the issue of Libyan compensation.

Bereaved relatives have even been denied in many cases the truth about why their loved ones died and any hopes of justice for their deaths has long vanished in all but the most optimistic of minds.

This latest blow is just another snub to people who have suffered for too long.

Belfast Telegraph

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