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NI Affairs Committee was not aware of full facts regarding complicated issues of Libya-IRA links

letter of the day: Terror damages


I refer to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee report on HM Government support for UK victims of IRA attacks that used Gaddafi-supplied Semtex and weapons.

One overriding question the report alludes to is why the British Government in 2004 did not pursue redress and obtain compensation for the bereaved and injured from the Gaddafi regime in sponsoring IRA terrorism.

Again in 2011, under the coalition Government of Cameron and Clegg, yet another opportunity was lost (or, perhaps, considered not a priority).

The potential claim for damages is based on the Gaddafi regime supplying, over a period of 25 years, arms, detonators, fuses and Semtex.

It is well-established that, in the 1970s, Czechoslovakia (as it then was) allowed large quantities of the explosive to be sold to Libya.

A documents file, released by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in April 2016, strongly suggests the supply of these weapons and explosives by Libya to the Provisional IRA was not illegal under international law.

The United Nations at the time of the Eksund seizure in 1987 did not have a proscribed list of terrorist organisations, nor rogue states sponsoring international terrorism.

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The US Mission at the UN was endeavouring to have such lists drawn up, but one main stumbling block was that Libya was a member of the Security Council at the time and highly unlikely to support the Americans.

The British Government (FCO) and also the Northern Ireland Office knew all of this back in 1987/88. It would appear that no one felt it prudent to inform the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee on these fundamental aspects of the Libya/IRA relationship.

This begs the question: why not?


Bangor, Co Down