Empey: PM to lay out IRA-Libya policy in months ahead

Sir Reg Empey,UUP
Sir Reg Empey,UUP

There is fresh optimism that a decision will be reached soon on the way forward for obtaining compensation from Libya for IRA victims.

Sir Reg Empey said that, following a meeting with Whitehall officials, he has been asked to submit his own ideas on how the government should act.

It is part of a review into the matter by top security advisor Kim Darroch – who was one of the figures he met – and it is expected that this will help pave the way for how to proceed.

Lord Empey said: “The upshot is that I’ve been asked to put forward suggestions – and I have got quite a lot of suggestions to put forward – as to what steps can be taken.

“The review will be reporting to the Prime Minister in the autumn, and I’m hopeful thereafter that we would be able to get a statement from the Prime Minister on what government policy now is.”

One of the key proposals the UUP peer will put forward is the idea of a kind of levy on business being done between UK companies and the troubled north African state.

The resulting money could be paid into a trust, which in turn could channel money to the victims themselves.

However, he cautioned that it could still be many years yet before UK-based Troubles victims actually receive any money.

The saga of obtaining compensation for victims of Gaddafi-funded killings has been ongoing for years.

In November 2011, following the collapse of the Gaddafi regime, David Cameron had declared the matter of compensation was “an important priority”.

Then in January Lord Empey said the position suddenly shifted, and the Government told him it was not pursuing it with Libyan authorities.

Following that, veteran diplomat Kim Darroch was appointed to look into the matter.

Lord Empey says the government now appears to realise “there is a problem and the position they set out in January was just unsustainable and unacceptable”, and that a decision on a definitive strategy may be mere months off.

However, once the government decides how to proceed, it will need a stable Libyan government to strike a deal with.

Asked if victims could still be looking at another few years’ wait, Lord Empey said: “We could very well be, because the place [Libya] is pandemonium at the moment as you can see.

“There is no government – they’re fighting each other. And until some time that is settled, one way or another, we’re not going to have anybody to negotiate with.”