Page last updated at 15:31 GMT, Wednesday, 29 April 2009 16:31 UK

Dodds cash plea over Libyan arms

By Stephen Walker
BBC NI political reporter

Muammar Gaddafi, 11 June 2008
During the Troubles, Libya supplied guns to the IRA

DUP MP Nigel Dodds is hoping to meet Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi to seek compensation for victims of the IRA.

The move comes after the Libyan authorities paid $1.5bn into a US compensation fund for the relatives of terror attacks.

During the Northern Ireland Troubles, Libya supplied guns and a large quantity of explosives to the IRA.

Mr Dodds wants to lead a delegation to Tripoli, saying it was "vital" Libya faced up to its responsibilities.

He said: "We believe it is absolutely vital that Libya is made to pay for that, to compensate the victims of Libyan-inspired and funded terrorism.

"The Americans have done a deal with Libya which will compensate their victims. It is important the United Kingdom does likewise and we are determined to ensure that this campaign is brought forward."

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said the government believed Libya would not be prepared to consider a "bilateral compensation settlement".

"Libya accounted for its past support of the IRA in 1995 to the satisfaction of the then government," she said.

"On all subsequent occasions this matter has been discussed, Libya has stressed that they believe the matter is firmly closed."

Meeting

Five months ago, Mr Dodds met Prime Minister Gordon Brown to ask to him to support the call for compensation.

Labour MP Andrew MacKinlay, who had a constituent killed in an IRA bombing, was among those attending the meeting.

We will nevertheless continue to monitor Libya's position closely, as we have done since the restoration of diplomatic relations
Foreign Office spokeswoman

He said: "What is deeply disappointing is the rather pathetic response of our own Foreign Office who aren't joining us on banging on the door of the Libyan Government.

"The Bush administration's state department pursued this with vigour. There hasn't been a comparable amount of energy put in by our Foreign Office and I regret that."

Alan McBride, who lost his wife and father-in-law in an IRA bombing on Belfast's Shankill Road in 1993, welcomed the proposed trip.

"It is well known Libya has been fronting terrorist campaigns in other parts of the world," he said.

"I think it's long overdue that they say something on it, even if it's just an apology.

"If they had armed the IRA, it is only but right that they should do something and if we can get it by sending our MPs out there, that's great."

The Shankill bomb killed nine civilians and an IRA bomber
The Shankill bomb killed nine civilians and an IRA bomber

A number of those killed with Libyan weapons were members of the RUC.

Police Federation Terry Spence said families currently felt sidelined by the issue.

"Anything that will move this situation forwards must be advantageous and beneficial to widows and dependants in Northern Ireland.

"We would also like to see more movement from the British government in respect of these matters."

The Foreign Office said diplomats had discussed the matter with Libya "in 2004, 2006, in November 2007, through the United States in August 2008 and most recently when (Foreign Office minister) Bill Rammell visited Tripoli in February".

A spokeswoman said: "We will nevertheless continue to monitor Libya's position closely, as we have done since the restoration of diplomatic relations.

"The British government is acutely aware that many thousands of people have suffered terribly as a result of IRA terrorism. They continue to have the government's deepest sympathies."



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