The abject failure to secure compensation for Libya-IRA victims

Morning View
Morning View

Tony Blair’s political legacy seems to take periodic battering, and often with good reason.

In the latest unflattering assessment of a failure of his premiership, the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee has found that he missed a vital opportunity to secure compensation with victims of Libyan-sponsored IRA terrorism.

The US, Germany and France all secured comparable levels of compensation for their citizens caught up in Libyan-linked terror attacks.

Perhaps Mr Blair was too worried about annoying republicans. After all, securing such compensation would not merely highlight the fact that Gaddafi was an unpleasant dictator but it would shine a spotlight on the massacres and bloodshed caused by IRA terrorism, as facilitated by Libya.

Mr Blair often demonstrated an inclination to appease the IRA, for example at the time of the secret On The Run scheme.

The NI committee says that the government must set up a fund for victims of Libya-IRA violence if a deal looks unlikely by the end of this year.

This is a welcome recommendation.

But something else must happen in parallel.

The IRA murderers must themselves be held to account.

After all, elderly soldiers are being put in the dock for split second decisions that they made decades ago.

Therefore, IRA leaders must be pursued in private prosecutions or private civil actions, funded by the state, if they are not likely to face criminal trials.

A lot of money is being spent annually investigating, in several forums, Troubles allegations against the security forces.

The Omagh bomb civil action stands as a shining example of what can be done when the authorities fail to secure justice against people responsible for some of the worst crimes in western Europe since the Second World War.

It is appalling that it has come to such a pass, of private prosecutions, but it has, and so they must get public financing.