All terror victims deserve redress, not just Protestant victims of republican violence

Letter to the editor
Letter to the editor

Lord Empey (‘Libya fought a proxy war against the UK via the IRA yet the victims have been failed once again,’ Sep 16) outlining measures to secure compensation from the former regime in Libya for victims of IRA attacks is critical of the repeated failure of successive UK government’s to provide compensation for victims.

Did Lord Empey read the report compiled by House of Commons MPs from the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee on Libyan compensation?

This report found that the administration led by Tony Blair missed a vital opportunity, during the period in which Libya was seeking a rapprochement with the west from 2003, to act on behalf of IRA victims by placing this issue firmly on the negotiating table.

It is without question the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was responsible for shipments of weaponry around the world, but we cannot ignore the source of these weapons. In 2007, agreement was reached on co-operation between Tony Blair and Colonel Gaddaffi on defence matters in the training of specialised Libyan military units.

Despite the killing of WPC Yvonne Fletcher in London in 1984 and the killings of 270 people in the Lockerbie bombing in Scotland in 1988, the British government approved for export to Libya military hardware which included projectile launchers, explosives, crowd control ammunition, small arms ammunition, teargas/irritant ammunition, electric batons, sub-machine guns, assault rifles, shotguns, sniper rifles and explosives. Britain’s professed ‘ethical dimension’ to foreign policy in relation to the export of arms to suspect regimes did not appear to apply to Libya.

Mr Willie Frazer, who represents the group FAIR, also seeks compensation from Libya. Bizarrely, this demand for compensation is confined to Protestant victims of republican violence. Mr Frazer, accompanied by the DUP MPs Jeffrey Donaldson and Nigel Dodds met with Colonel Gadaffi in Tripoli to press their case. Perhaps Mr Donaldson and Mr Dodds might make a similar case for compensation for relatives of loyalist victims from the South African government

In 1987, two members of Ulster Resistance were arrested in France along with a South African diplomat. Attempts had been made to exchange information on Shorts’ missile technology in return for South African guns.

In 1988 a substantial haul of weapons was reportedly smuggled into the North from South Africa by the British military intelligence officer Brian Nelson and distributed between the UFF, the UVF and the shadowy Ulster Resistance, some of which were subsequently used to murder innocent Catholics.

It is believed these weapons were used in the 1992 Sean Graham’s betting shop massacre in Belfast that claimed five lives.

Surely If we are to be consistent in applying principles of justice and equality to all and to liberate the anachronistic political structures which pass for a functioning democracy in the North, then all victims must have parity of esteem and all suffering acknowledged equally.

Tom Cooper, Dublin