Government misses deadline on Libya-IRA report

The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee published its report in May
The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee published its report in May

The government has missed a deadline to respond to critical recommendations that it resolves compensation for Libya-IRA victims by the end of this year.

The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee (NIAC) published a report in May which found successive UK governments had failed to support victims of Libyan-IRA terrorism, while French, American and German governments had successfully pressed Libya to pay compensation.

The committee called on the government to secure compensation by the end of this year.

The late Libyan dictator Col Gaddafi provided millions of pounds and 120 tonnes of weaponry to the IRA, including Semtex.

The government was due to respond to the NIAC report by Friday last week, July 7, but failed to do so.

Lawyer Matt Jury, who helped lead the Omagh bomb civil action and is acting for Libya-IRA victims, said the delay was unacceptable.

“Does the government not realise that every time it fails to live up to an expectation, obligation or assurance it is unnecessarily adding to the victims’ pain and suffering?” he said.

“The victims have waited too long for this issue to be resolved and delays like this, without explanation, are simply inexcusable.

“The inquiry’s recommendations were clear, as was its position that this matter should be resolved by the end of the year. The inquiry called for action, not procrastination, and the clock is ticking.”

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office missed its July 7 deadline despite assurances made to the victims’ lawyers that the deadline would be met, he said.

Victims only learnt of the plan not to respond in time through an answer to a parliamentary question last week, he added.

In an email to some campaigners on the day of the deadline, the FCO said the delay was because government was in purdah “for much of the time between May 2 and June 30” due to the election and ministers had “only limited time” to consider the committee’s report in detail. It said a response would be given in September.

The government has persistently opposed moves by UUP peer Lord Empey to tap £9.5bn of terror-linked Libyan assets frozen in the UK to compensate victims.