DUP calls for ‘fresh start’ from government on Libya compensation

Ian Paisley
Ian Paisley

The DUP has called for a “fresh start” on getting compensation for victims Libyan-supplied IRA weaponry after the government ruled out compensation proposals put forward by MPs.

Earlier this year the Commons’ Northern Ireland Affairs Committee had recommended that the government should establish and fund a “reparations fund” if it was clear that there is unlikely to be compensation from Libya by the end of this year.

The cross-party committee of MPs had also recommended that Libyan assets frozen in the UK could provide “leverage” in negotiating with the Libyan authorities who have taken over from the Gaddafi regime. Those proposals have now been rejected by the government.

In a response to the committee, the government ruled out a reparations fund of its own and said that it would be against international law for it to tamper with the frozen assets of the late dictator.

Andrew Murrison, who has taken over from Laurence Robertson as chairman of the committee, said it had been hoped that “a fresh way forward could be found”.

The DUP, which now has major influence deriving from its decision to sustain the government in power, responded in a way which did not explicitly indicate that it would make the issue a major part of its demands of the prime minister if she needs to secure the party’s votes in coming months or years.

When asked by the News Letter whether the DUP would use its influence with the government to pressure it to accept the committee’s recommendations, Ian Paisley said: “The campaign to secure compensation has been ongoing now for many years.

“A precedent was set through the £1bn paid by the Libyan government in 2008 for the Lockerbie bombing.

“Enniskillen, Portadown, Manchester, Brighton, Lisburn, Belfast, Canary Wharf and Warrington were all bombed by the Provisional IRA using Libyan semtex.

“It is appalling that there has been no substantive action from government over a long period of time to address the injustice felt by victims right across the United Kingdom.

“The previous Prime Minister David Cameron did say that the issue of compensation from Libya was a priorty for his government.

“I hope that remains the case, whilst it is disgraceful that former Prime Minister Tony Blair snubbed IRA victims through his refusal to even appear before the committee to answer questions.

“I am glad there was a commitment from the minister of state in the Northern Ireland Office on Wednesday to meet with my colleagues and I to discuss this report and to get a fresh start on dealing with this crucial issue.”