Foreign Office Libya email heartless: victim

Grief from the Troubles has passed down through generations, new research has shown.
Grief from the Troubles has passed down through generations, new research has shown.

The Foreign Office told a woman whose mother was murdered in the Enniskillen bomb that it thought she would be happy that the Libyan Prime Minister had met a former IRA commander – even though he never met victims.

Aileen Quinton was one of several IRA victims to receive the email from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) last June, as diplomats attempted to explain to victims why they had not been told of Prime Minister Ali Zeidan’s visit to Enniskillen last June.

The correspondence from the FCO’s ‘Libyan Reconciliation Unit’, informed them that Mr Zeidan — a decades-long opponent of Colonel Gaddafi — had been in the town where Gaddafi-supplied Semtex killed 11 people as they paid their respects to the war dead on Remembrance Sunday in 1987.

Explaining the G8 visit, the FCO said: “He met with the First Minister and Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland at Belfast City Airport. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office welcome this engagement. We see such engagement as a key part of the reconciliation process and hope that this meeting serves as part of the process of developing a new and forward looking relationship between Libya and Northern Ireland.

“We recognise some of you will find it disappointing you were not informed earlier about Zeidan’s visit to Northern Ireland and that you did not have the opportunity to meet with him.

“Due to security reasons we were unable to disclose Zeidan’s movements. ...We hope you will agree that Zeidan’s presence in Northern Ireland and the fact that he has met with Northern Ireland’s leaders is in itself a very positive development.”

Ms Quinton replied to the FCO: “Disappointed doesn’t even begin to cover it. Disgusted is much nearer the mark.”

She said that Mr Zeidan could have visited “victims at very short notice”.

She added: “He wouldn’t have had to stay long or speak to everyone. His presence and sharing in a celebration with other victims of Gaddafi would have been very significant, mutually supportive and been part of what could have been a positive relationship between British and Libyan Gaddafi victims.

“That you can express the hope that we would consider that instead of meeting victims he met the victim maker i.e. the Deputy First Minister, who is regarded by many as being one of those directly involved in the bomb [something Mr McGuinness denies] and giving it the go ahead is heartless and insensitive to a staggering degree.”