Gov­ern­ment’s snub to Libyan ter­ror pay­out scheme ‘one of worst in­jus­tices in UK his­tory’

Belfast Telegraph - - NEWS - BY DONNA DEENEY AND AL­LAN PRE­STON

THE Gov­ern­ment’s re­jec­tion of a com­pen­sa­tion fund for vic­tims of Libyan-spon­sored IRA vi­o­lence is “one of the worst in­jus­tices in the his­tory of the United King­dom”, it has been claimed.

For years Jonathan Ganesh, a sur­vivor of the 1996 Dock­lands bomb, has cam­paigned for fi­nan­cial re­dress for all vic­tims of IRA Sem­tex bomb at­tacks.

Yes­ter­day he said that the UK gov­ern­ment’s stance was “shame­ful” in com­par­i­son to the com­pen­sa­tion se­cured from Libya by the French, Ger­man and US gov­ern­ments.

A rec­om­men­da­tion by the North­ern Ire­land Af­fairs Com­mit­tee for a UK repa­ra­tions fund was roundly re­jected by the Gov­ern­ment, which said a fund for a spe­cific group of vic­tims pre­sented it with “po­ten­tial chal­lenges”.

The Gov­ern­ment said: “The gov­ern­ment notes the po­ten­tial chal­lenges of mak­ing ad­di­tional UK re­sources avail­able specif­i­cally to the vic­tims of Gaddafi-spon­sored IRA ter­ror­ism, which would need to be con­sid­ered care­fully against gov­ern­ment sup­port to vic­tims of ter­ror­ism more gen­er­ally, in­clud­ing in North­ern Ire­land.”

Sec­re­tary of State James Bro­ken­shire said com­pen­sa­tion from Libya was a pri­vate mat­ter for in­di­vid­ual vic­tims.

Muam­mar Gaddafi, the for­mer Libyan leader, main­tained a flow of guns and Sem­tex ex­plo­sives used by IRA bombers dur­ing the Trou­bles, in­clud­ing the En­niskillen bomb in 1987, the 1993 Shankill bomb and the Dock­lands bomb in 1996.

Mr Ganesh, who was badly in­jured at Dock­lands, said: “This is per­haps one of the worst in­jusLibyan tices in the his­tory of the United King­dom. What the UK gov­ern­ment has done is shame­ful, they ex­pect vic­tims, many of whom have suf­fered se­vere trauma, are in wheel­chairs, suf­fer PTSD and have colostomy bags, to take on the Libyan gov­ern­ment.

“Vic­tims in both the main­land UK and in North­ern Ire­land have sold their houses in or­der to pay for the care they re­ceive.

“They have aban­doned us and poured salt into our wounds by say­ing com­pen­sa­tion is a pri­vate mat­ter — how in­sult­ing, how dis­gust­ing.”

Stephen Gault lost his fa­ther Sa­muel in the En­niskillen IRA bomb of 1987.

He was also among 200 fam­i­lies who started a le­gal chal­lenge for com­pen­sa­tion against the gov­ern­ment 15 years ago.

“It doesn’t sur­prise me they’re do­ing a U-turn like this,” he said, adding that he was “dis­gusted” to learn of the de­ci­sion through the me­dia rather than from the Gov­ern­ment.

Mr Gault said the de­lays meant many of the sur­vivors have died with­out help.

“With the En­niskillen bomb, there’s at least five peo­ple passed away who were part of the orig­i­nal le­gal chal­lenge, my mother (Gla­dys) in­cluded,” he said.

Neil Tat­ter­sall (47) was badly in­jured in 1992 by an IRA bomb at­tack in Manch­ester. He was in his early 20s and wait­ing the birth of his first child.

Twenty-five years later, he con­tin­ues to feel the phys­i­cal and men­tal scars.

“Ev­ery coun­try in the Western World looks af­ter its cit­i­zens, but in the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment they just keep on slap­ping us down,” he said.

“I feel they have defe­cated on us from a great height once again. I know this is a graphic way of putting it, but I can­not em­pha­sise how strongly I feel that they don’t give a damn about their own cit­i­zens.”

Another vic­tim, Noel Downey, also spoke of his anger.

In 1990, the off-duty UDR man — then aged 26 — lost a leg in Lis­naskea to an IRA car bomb.

“It’s ab­so­lutely ridicu­lous now for the Gov­ern­ment to say this is a pri­vate mat­ter for vic­tims,” he said. “For starters, half of us will be dead be­fore we could ever bring a deal with the Libyan gov­ern­ment to fruition.

“Also we don’t have the re­sources to take this through the courts. The money’s sit­ting in the Trea­sury, it’s there to be used and it’s a pity it can’t be made avail­able to vic­tims of Sem­tex like my­self,” he added.

Stephen Gault with a pic­ture of his dad and (top) yes­ter­day’s front page

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