On August 10 the News Letter carried a story in which the DUP’s former Westminster Chief of Staff, Christopher Montgomery was quoted as saying that the DUP are presiding over a “betrayal of unionist voters in Northern Ireland”.
Nowhere is this truer than in the case of compensation for the victims of Libyan supplied Semtex.
On Thursday May 10 there was a debate in Westminster regarding compensation for victims of Libyan supplied Semtex.
Only a couple of hours before this debate, the Attorney General announced that the two Libyans allegedly subject of an illegal rendition to Gaddafi’s Libya, would receive £500,000 compensation.
Following the debate in which many MPs spoke passionately about the plight of the victims, in particular Kate Hoey, who was at one stage moved to tears when she detailed how one victim had recently taken her own life, FCO minister Alistair Burt had the unenviable job of defending the indefensible.
He went on to state that the government wouldn’t be espousing the victims claims, as France, Germany and the United States had done.
Nor would the government work on the victims behalf, instead insisting that the claims were a “private matter”.
Several MPs had made the point viz Libyans being compensated by the British state and British victims being thrown to the wolves, as well as reinforcing the point that an American victim caught up in the Harrods bombing received several million dollars compensation, and the British victims have received nothing.
However this disparity in treatment failed even to raise a Tory eyebrow.
What no one addressed however was the elephant in the room of the DUP propping up the Tories.
Lady Hermon at one point seemed to want to touch on the subject, but stopped short. In the News Letter July 2 2017, there was a piece titled ‘Canary Wharf victim reassured by Donaldson on Libya-IRA compensation’.
I wonder if this victim is still “reassured” when nearly a year later the government are still wheeling out tired excuses as to why they won’t lift a finger to help the victims, and the DUP stand by.
Indeed I believe Mr Donaldson wasn’t present at the debate, nor was Mr Paisley Jr who, when the government rubbished the recommendations of the NIAC report into UK government support for the victims, tore into the government by calling for a “fresh approach” to be taken by the government.
I found it amusing that, during Thursday’s debate, another MP again made the call for a “fresh approach” to the issue by the UK government.
Indeed the UK government have been using the same stock excuses for over ten years, their approach, far from being fresh, is as stale as Jeremy Corbyn’s wardrobe.
The tragedy here is that people are suffering and people are dying, while their government looks the other way and their MPs hold the government to account by administering the proverbial slap on the wrist.
The sole DUP MP who made any contribution to the debate was Strangford’s Jim Shannon. He spoke well, but he, like the rest of the MPs, failed to put any meaningful pressure on the government who were told that many of the victims have died in the years this case has been rumbling on, one through suicide.
And after being told how successive UK governments had thumbed their nose at the victims and how some of them were severely ill or destitute, said that they weren’t going to help. How can the DUP possibly defend their propping up of a government in these circumstances?
How can they stand by as the victims, some driven to suicide, are treated like rubbish, while the government does everything it can to appease the victim makers of Sinn Fein/IRA by ruling out an amnesty for UK forces personnel?
I really don’t know who is worse, the Tories for doing it, or the DUP for letting them.
Andrew Magowan, Belfast BT4