The Address | Benghazi – Libya
LONDON – The value of frozen Libyan assets held by the UK has risen to £12 billion but they cannot be used to compensate victims of Muammar Gaddafi’s support for Irish Republican Army (IRA), the British government has disclosed.
The Under-Secretary of State of UK’s Foreign Office, Alistair Burt, was questioned on Tuesday by the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee about the issue of compensating IRA victims.
Burt said that Libyan authorities are primarily responsible for compensation but said British ministers are trying to facilitate progress.
“Money is available for the repair of Libya and establishment of a responsible government as well as making sure… it can meet its obligations of the past and the future.” said Burt.
Members of Parliament such as Ian Paisley and Gregory Campbell accused the British government of “treading water” on efforts to secure the compensation. MP Gregory Campbell said, “it sounds like a Government that is prepared to tread water with no end in sight.”
However, Alistair Burt said various other options are being considered and suggested the government was looking beyond the frozen Libyan assets to secure the compensation.
The late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi supplied arms and Semtex to the IRA in the 1970s during the Provisional Irish Republican Army campaign.
Libyan authorities in both Cyrenaica and Tripolitania have rejected the use of Libya’s state assets to compensate victims of Gaddafi’s IRA support.
In October, the Arab Parliament called on the United Nations and the UN Security Council to protect Libya’s frozen funds and assets in the UK.