By Fiona O’Cleirigh | 10 October 2011
Groups representing IRA terrorism victims are aiming to secure a compensation payout from Libya of up to $2 billion. They want the money to help victims of the Provisional IRA’s terror campaign – which used Libyan-supplied arms – in the UK and communities devastated by the ‘troubles’.
Exaro reveals today that British and Libyan government officials are to meet next week in London to thrash out a compensation deal.
William Frazer, director of Families Acting for Innocent Relatives, said: “The figure being played with is $2 billion. This sum has been mentioned by the Foreign Office, politicians and the legal team within the last few weeks. I was told that sum still stands.”
“One American victim received more than $2 million for the loss of a leg: the Irish have received nothing” – Jonathan Ganesh of the Dockland Victims’ Association
Libya agreed in 2008 to pay $1.5 billion to settle a claim by relatives of American victims of the 1988 Lockerbie airliner bombing. In August, Exaro revealed the declaration signed by the National Transitional Council (NTC), which has ousted the ruling regime of Muammar Gaddafi, to pay compensation in the UK “in line with other US victim claimants”.
Frazer said: “The compensation is going to be upheld but there has to be more to it than that. We certainly do not want to be seen to be going just after money after what the Libyan people have been through.”
“Although nothing has been confirmed regarding the way the process is going to go, a large number of victims will be compensated both here [in Northern Ireland] and on the mainland.”
He hoped that any deal agreed would benefit both countries. “The intention is to set up projects between here and Libya so that people in Libya can also benefit.”
“For instance, the export of lamb and beef, which are badly needed in Libya: exporting would help people both in Northern Ireland and in Libya, and would give a boost to the farming industry.”
Jonathan Ganesh of the Dockland Victims’ Association, whose members will also receive payment from the proposed deal, said: “The primary goal is to secure compensation from the Libyan government as per the memorandum of understanding. This would cover both compensation for individuals and the cost of projects to benefit both UK and Libyan communities.”
Ganesh, who was seriously injured in the IRA’s Canary Wharf bombing in 1996, criticised Tony Blair’s Labour government for failing to press for compensation.
He said: “Britain has a wonderful history of doing the right thing at the right time. But the way it handled the Libya situation was a complete disgrace. It has devalued the life of every British citizen.”
America prohibited UK victims from sharing in the $1.5 billion settlement of claims in the US against Libya over the 1988 Lockerbie airliner bombing.
Ganesh said that when he appealed to the US Senate in 2008, he was told: “If your own government will not fight for you, how can we fight for you?”
He continued: “Is an American life worth more than a British life? One American victim received more than $2 million for the loss of a leg: the Irish have received nothing. We want to see that justice will prevail, and that everyone is treated equally.”
Frazer added: “It has never been all about the money. We saw the people of Libya as victims of Gaddafi as well.”
He said that Libya would need to show the world how it has changed, adding: “What better way than to right the wrongs of the past regime?”