COMMONS

Committee finds Government response 'unacceptable'

15 September 2017

The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee publishes the Government's response to their report into Government support for UK victims of IRA attacks that used Gaddafi-supplied Semtex and weapons

Committee recommendations

The report was agreed and published by the previous Northern Ireland Affairs Committee and included the following key recommendations:

  • That the UK Government adopt a "fresh approach" to secure compensation for victims of IRA attacks using Gaddafi-supplied Semtex.
  • That the UK Government should establish and finance a reparations fund, if it becomes apparent that no progress will be made with the Libyan authorities in the short to medium-term.
  • That Libyan assets frozen in the UK could provide some leverage in direct negotiations on compensation for victims.

Government response will be deeply disappointing to victims

The Government response has not accepted the Committee’s recommendations.

  • Despite repeated expressions of sympathy for victims, the Government does not consider a UK reparations fund for victims to be a ‘viable option’.
  • It considers compensation claims to be private matters and that the FCO provides facilitation to victims to engage with the Libyan authorities to pursue compensation.
  • It does not consider it to be in the UK national interest to use political or financial support to Libya as leverage to secure compensation for victims.

The response will be deeply disappointing to victims. It does not offer a new way forward for securing compensation to victims and reiterates the Government’s current position.

Decades of suffering

Committee Chair, Dr Andrew Murrison MP, commented:

"Firstly, I would like to reiterate the words of my predecessor as Chair of the Northern Ireland Committee, Laurence Robertson, and pay tribute to those who have suffered for so long and campaigned so bravely as a result of these horrific acts.

The report detailed decades of suffering, where victims of IRA attacks were left to rebuild their lives with limited support. It had been hoped that, despite decades of disappointment, a fresh way forward could be found. I note the ongoing dialogue ministers have with Libyan counterparts on the issue, which is welcome. I now invite them to formally update the committee on a regular basis until the matter is resolved."

Kate Hoey MP added:

"The Government response is as unsurprising as it is unacceptable. They are telling people to seek justice on their own, to bear the cost and overcome the language barrier of obtaining compensation directly from the Libyan Government. There is a duty to represent the victims, just as the US and German governments fought for compensation for their citizens."

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

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