Victims of Libyan-supplied Semtex used in the Enniskillen bomb were not told of the new Libyan Prime Minister’s visit to the town last year – yet the Government introduced him to Martin McGuinness, an IRA victim has said.
Aileen Quinton, whose elderly mother was murdered in the 1987 atrocity, said it was “absolutely appalling” that when Ali Zeidan, the current Libyan premier and a decades-long opponent of Colonel Gaddafi, visited Enniskillen he was not shown Ulster victims of Libyan Semtex to celebrate the demise of their “mutual enemy”.
Ms Quinton said she was speaking out after last week’s revelation that IRA victims are considering suing former Prime Minister Tony Blair after an email emerged which they alleged showed that he had “connived” with the now dead despot to block compensation to UK victims of Libyan Semtex.
Writing in today’s News Letter, Ms Quinton said that Enniskillen bomb victims were horrified to discover that not only had the current Libyan Prime Minister been a guest of the British Government in Enniskillen without their knowledge, but that he had met Martin McGuinness.
Mr McGuinness has denied allegations that he was the leading figure in the IRA’s northern command at the time of the 1987 bombing.
Ms Quinton said it was “appalling” that “instead of a meeting between him and local victims being facilitated, he was presented with a man who has been reported as having authorised the bomb and who at the very least was a leader of the organisation responsible, Martin McGuinness”.
Ms Quinton said she had heard that Mr Zeidan was “not happy at being put in that position” and blamed the Foreign Office for the situation.
She said that “at best, it was a diplomatic failure of gargantuan proportions” but that “at worst, things were deliberately organised...to ensure such a meeting did not take place”.
IRA victims’ legal and diplomatic fight for compensation from Libya has already taken more than a decade.
The Conservatives came to power in 2010 promising to stand with the victims in their fight for redress but Ms Quinton said that not enough was being done to secure frozen Gaddafi assets for his victims, both here and in Libya. She urged the Government to “involve itself properly in redressing the damage done to British interests”.
The Libyan Embassy yesterday said many of its officials were unavailable on Friday afternoon and by last night had not responded.
A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “The British Government takes the needs of victims of terrorism in the UK extremely seriously.
“Resolving the outstanding bilateral issues arising from the actions of the Qadhafi regime remains a priority. Libyan authorities are in no doubt of the importance we attach to resolving these legacy issues.
“The PM most recently raised the need for swift progress on these issues with PM Zeidan during his visit to London in September.
The Libyans have repeatedly assured us of their commitment to working with us to resolve these issues.
“HMG believe compensation claims are best pursued directly with the Libyan Government through private campaigns. Our focus is building links and understanding between Libya and the UK, including those communities in the UK affected by Gaddafi-sponsored terrorism.
“Although HMG is not involved in any negotiations on securing compensation payments, the FCO does provide facilitation support to campaign groups, where it has been requested.”