Victims of IRA-Libya terror to stage mass lobby of MPs

Victims campaigners Willie Frazer (left) and Jonathan Ganesh will be part of a delegation lobbying MPs on Tuesday at Westminster
Victims campaigners Willie Frazer (left) and Jonathan Ganesh will be part of a delegation lobbying MPs on Tuesday at Westminster

Campaigners are planning to stage a mass lobby of MPs after the UK government blocked a bid to pay compensation to victims of IRA-Libyan terrorism.

The Asset Freezing (Compensation) Bill aims to free up £9.5bn worth of assets linked to former dictator Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s regime, which have been frozen in London by the United Nations.

Several IRA atrocities were carried out with Semtex explosive supplied by Gaddafi, including attacks on Harrods, Hyde Park and Canary Wharf.

Campaigners want a portion of the frozen Libyan assets to be spent on compensation to victims and their families.

While the bill – sponsored by UUP peer Lord Empey – has already passed through the House of Lords, it was derailed in the Commons last Friday.

A Tory whip was heard to shout “object”, which stopped the measure from proceeding.

The bill gets a second reading on March 24 but there are fears the government will now seek to block it once and for all.

Jonathan Ganesh, who suffered serious injuries when the IRA detonated a half-tonne bomb in the heart of London’s Docklands in 1996, said survivors are angry at how they have been treated by the government.

Mr Ganesh,who is president of the Dockland’s Victims Association, added: “This was a chance to make a stand against terrorism.

“It was the only chance in history for a democratic parliament to send a message to every terrorist around the world that if you kill or maim an innocent citizen, you’ll be held to account eventually.

“I can’t understand why our government can’t fight for us.

“It is almost like they don’t want us to succeed.”

Victims’ campaigner Willie Frazer, who has been heavily involved in the battle for compensation from the outset, will join survivors of IRA terror attacks on Tuesday to lobby MPs at Westminster.

Mr Frazer, founder of pressure group Families Acting for Innocent Relatives, added: “We have to ask these MPs who are trying to block this bill why they are seeking to do so.

“The UK government has said the assets cannot legally be touched as they are frozen under a UN resolution.

“But there is nothing blocking access to the interest on these assets, which amounts to hundreds of millions of pounds a year.

“Campaigners also intend to hold protests outside the constituency offices of those MPs who are seeking to block the bill.”