Push for Libya compensation for IRA victims no closer

The name Alistair Burt won't be familiar to many of our readers. The Tory MP for North East Bedfordshire is Minister for the Middle East.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 20th April 2018, 8:00 am
Morning View
Morning View

According to the North Down MP Lady Sylvia Hermon, Mr Burt is a “really good Foreign Office minister” who is “extremely knowledgeable about Libya”.

However, comments attributed to the minister on the official www.gov.uk website have angered unionists and all those with knowledge of how the IRA used Libyan weapons to wage terror on the people of Northern Ireland.

Mr Burt spent two days in the north African nation earlier this month. He spent the time talking about “security, counter terrorism, reforming the economy and trade”.

Although the statement says “matters relating to the legacy of years of terrorism” were discussed there was no specific mention of the ongoing issue for compensation for the victims of IRA terrorism which was sponsored by long-time Libyan dictator Colonel Gaddafi.

Mr Burt referred to the UK as a “strong partner and friend of Libya”, something which will have come as news to many of us in the UK.

Lady Sylvia makes a worthwhile point in her statement. If, as Mr Burt claims, the UK government and their Libyan counterparts are now “strong partners”, then surely this presents the best opportunity yet for the government to properly press for compensation. But judging by Mr Burt’s statement, this was down the minister’s priority list.

The lawyers, Jason McCue and Matthew Jury, who helped win a case for the Omagh victims, go further still and are particularly critical of the minister. They claim Mr Burt is another minister who has put British commercial interests in relation to oil before the issue of compensation for victims of terrorism.

This government isn’t the first to leave the victims of IRA terrorism disappointed. The fear for the victims is that it won’t be the last.