03/11/2009

Libya Urged To Invest In NI Economy

The nation that once bankrolled the IRA terror campaign is today being urged to support now peaceful Northern Ireland by putting money into the economy.

A delegation of politicians has just returned from Libya with two local MPs - from the DUP - pressing for compensation for victims of the IRA being chanelled into the common purse.

MPs Jeffrey Donaldson and Nigel Dodds said they were welcomed with great courtesy and said the overall delegation told officials in Libya they should make a substantial investment in Northern Ireland's economy to make amends for arming the IRA.

The aid would boost peace and reconciliation for all those affected by decades of republican violence, the Westminster parliamentary group added.

IRA victims have sought compensation from Tripoli after it boosted the IRA with tonnes of the explosive Semtex as well as thousands of rifles, small arms and flame throwers.

The MPs said: "This has been a constructive and positive first direct engagement with the Libyan authorities.

"It constitutes a major milestone in our campaign on behalf of all those who have suffered because of Libyan involvement in helping IRA terrorism."
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They met Abdulati al-Obidi, Secretary for European Affairs, Ali Shamekh, Secretary of the General People's Congress and Tripoli mayor Dr Ali Reeh among others.

The team presented a proposal that Libya participate in a humanitarian programme for peace and reconciliation for the benefit of all affected in the United Kingdom, particularly in Northern Ireland.

The proposal includes substantial business and infrastructure investment and wide-ranging community development projects aimed at bringing closure for those who have suffered in the past, including resolution of existing claims by UK citizens involving Libya.

Mr Donaldson and Mr Dodds added: "We emphasised the great importance of the proposal as a new and innovative means of giving such closure to the past and providing a firm foundation for future progress in Northern Ireland."

The Libyan authorities are ready to consider further details of the proposals, which we will be sending to them this week, they added.

"We have come a long way so far but this remains a work in progress and we do not expect an immediate result."

The 'expolsive' links between the IRA and Colonel Muammar Gaddafi are thought to stretch back as far as 1972, and Libya is understood to have supplied the republican group with Czech-made Semtex in the 1980s.

Relatives of those killed and maimed through the use of arms and explosives paid for by Libya are to be briefed on the proposals this week.

(BMcC/KMcA)

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