IRA victims welcome ‘justified death’ of Col Gaddafi

File photo dated 29/05/2007 of former Prime Minister Tony Blair meeting Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi at his desert base outside Sirte south of Tripoli.
File photo dated 29/05/2007 of former Prime Minister Tony Blair meeting Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi at his desert base outside Sirte south of Tripoli.

VICTIMS of Gadaffi-sponsored IRA atrocities have said the dictator’s death was “welcome and justified”.

Semtex supplied by Libya became the IRA’s most devastating and infamous weapon, killing dozens of people in attacks including the Shankill and Enniskillen bombings.

Michelle Williamson, whose parents George and Gillian were murdered along with seven other people on the Shankill Road in 1993, said the timing of the dictator’s death was “fitting” ahead of this weekend’s anniversary.

“When I saw his face... I just thought about all the suffering and death he caused to the people on the Shankill that day, including my family,” she told the News Letter last night.

“It is apt and fitting in a way that he has died a few days before the anniversary. I would never celebrate any death, but I welcome it, it is justified.

“I hold him on the same level as those IRA men who planted the bomb. He [Gaddafi] played as big a part as anyone; without him the IRA wouldn’t have been able to do what they did.

“But his death does not bring closure, it’s not the end for me. I still want to see those IRA men who ordered the bombing brought to justice.”

Semtex explosives were also used in the Enniskillen bombing which claimed the lives of 11 people in 1987.

Stephen Gault, whose father Samuel was murdered in the Poppy Day massacre, said the dictator had met a deserved end and that he “would always be remembered for the pain and suffering caused by IRA attacks such as Enniskillen”.

“I don’t think I would ever celebrate someone’s death, but I definitely do not have sympathy for him,” he said.

“It is significant the way he died. It was justified, he was hunted down like a fox and killed.

“He brought so much pain and misery, to people here in Northern Ireland and to people in his own country, so the fact that he is now gone has to be welcome.”

It was claimed last night that Gaddafi’s death means that 150 IRA victims will soon receive substantial compensation.

Northern Ireland IRA victims have been campaigning for 10 years to achieve compensation comparable to that which Libya paid out to US victims of the Lockerbie bombing – around £920m. The deal is thought to be worth around £2bn for IRA victims in the UK.

Co Armagh victims campaigner Willie Frazer said last night: “Now that Gaddafi is gone, the 150 IRA victims on our writ are going to receive a substantial payment from Libya very soon. And further compensation for other victims will be negotiated after that.

“The last 10 years people have been laughing and condemning us for this campaign – republicans and some unionists. But now they are going to have to eat humble pie.”

He said the project had been victim-initiated and led since the beginning. He attended a key meeting at the Foreign Office in London only on Wednesday with London IRA victims campaigner Jonathan Ganesh, Jeffrey Donaldson MP and Lord Laird.

Mr Donaldson said last night: “The news of Gaddafi’s demise means that the Libyans are now able to proceed with forming their interim government in the next two or three weeks.

“This will enable us to continue our negotiations with Libyans on legal claims to compensation for some 150 IRA victims.

“Beyond that we will discuss the creation of a humanitarian fund for the broader IRA victims.”

The British government had initially refused to back the legal claims of its own citizens, as diplomatic and trade relations with Gaddafi improved. But then prime minister Gordon Brown performed a dramatic U-turn in 2008 and threw his weight behind their campaign, setting up a special unit in the Foreign Office to support them.

In April, the Foreign Office welcomed a signed commitment from the chairman of the Libyan Transitional National Council, which said it would compensate UK citizens who were injured in IRA attacks to the same level as US citizens who lost loved ones in the Lockerbie bombing.