Bid to seal Libyan deal over supply of Semtex to IRA

Tue, Jun 15, 2010, 01:00

EFFORTS ARE continuing to sign off on an all-embracing deal worth up to $2 billion with Col Muammar Gadafy’s administration in Tripoli over Libya supplying the IRA with Semtex explosives.

A deal could include hundreds of millions of dollars of compensation for people wounded in IRA explosions and for the families of victims who died in blasts in which the IRA used the deadly Czech-made explosive.

A campaign group that includes a small number of Northern Ireland politicians with support from the British foreign office, together with Omagh families’ solicitor Jason McCue, is pursuing the case for compensation.

The claims relate to IRA attacks such as the Enniskillen bombing in 1987 in which 11 people were killed and the Harrods bombing in London in 1983 in which six people were killed.

Negotiations with Col Gadafy’s administration are said to be at a sensitive stage but informed sources said there was a real prospect of a deal that would provide millions of dollars for more than 150 people named in a writ against Libya.

More generally the deal could open up the prospect of significant Northern Ireland trade with Libya that could make any agreement worth in the region of $2 billion.

Based on payments to relatives of the Lockerbie plane bombing victims and to US citizens who died as a result of other Libyan-sponsored terrorism, people named on the writ could each receive up to $5 million.

Last November a political delegation supporting the Libyan compensation campaign travelled in Tripoli to meet senior Libyan politicians and officials on the issue. It included DUP MPs Jeffrey Donaldson and Nigel Dodds, Ulster Unionist peer Lord Bew, British Labour MP Andrew MacKinlay and Lord Brennan QC.

Mr Donaldson and Mr Dodds said the visit was a “major milestone in our campaign on behalf of all those who have suffered because of Libyan involvement in helping IRA terrorism”.

The delegation put forward a plan that would include compensation for people named in the writ and more wider Libyan support for “peace and reconciliation” initiatives.

Mr Donaldson told The Irish Timesyesterday no deal has been concluded but talks were continuing with the Tripoli authorities.

The group is due to meet British foreign office officials tomorrow to discuss progress in the campaign to date. Sources said that there had “been something of a hiatus” in the campaign due to the change of government in Britain.

The foreign office, according to sources, is awaiting formal support for the campaign from the new government.