Government ‘let down Canary Wharf IRA bomb victims’ says Northern Ireland committee

PUBLISHED: 00:01 02 May 2017 | UPDATED: 08:08 02 May 2017

1996... IRA bomb devastation.Picture: [ADVERTISER ARCHIVE]

1996... IRA bomb devastation.Picture: [ADVERTISER ARCHIVE]

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Whoever wins the general election should set up a fund for victims of the 1996 IRA Canary Wharf bombing and other atrocities where Libyan dictator Gaddafi’s Semtex was used, a Parliamentary committee says.

Jonathan Ganesh [Docklands Victims Assoc]Jonathan Ganesh [Docklands Victims Assoc]

Victims of the bombing have been “let down by successive governments” with a series of “missed opportunities” which has left victims with no compensation decades on, the Northern Ireland Affairs committee has found.

The next government after June’s election “must take firm action to end two decades of failure”, the committee’s report just released at midnight urges.

Today’s call has been welcomed by the Docklands Victims’ Association which has been campaigning for compensation for 20 years.

“I hope whoever gets elected will rectify this moral injustice,” the Associations’ president Jonathan Ganesh told the East London Advertiser.

Jonathan Ganesh injured in 1996 bombing at Canary Wharf. Picture: ADVERTISER ARCHIVEJonathan Ganesh injured in 1996 bombing at Canary Wharf. Picture: ADVERTISER ARCHIVE

“This report confirms that all the victims of Gaddafi and the IRA were abandoned by the government.”

Gaddafi paid compensation to victims who held French, German and US citizenship before his regime was toppled in 2011.

“But our government shamelessly abandoned its citizens,” Jonathan added. “The lack of concern for UK victims disgraced our entire nation.”

He was a victim himself when the Canary Wharf Midland Bank HQ, where he was a security guard, was bombed with Semtex on February 9, 1996—yet led others to safety despite his injuries.

Ihsan Bashir, Canary Wharf bomb victim's brother. Picture: MIKE BROOKEIhsan Bashir, Canary Wharf bomb victim's brother. Picture: MIKE BROOKE

He also lost two friends killed in the bombing, newsagent Inam Bashir, 27, and shop-worker John Jeffries, 29.

Inam’s brother Ihsan Bashir said: “The government should have had the courage to intervene for all those left severely disabled. All life must be valued, regardless of passport.”

Another 50 people were injured, including some on Millwall’s Barkantine Estate on the Isle of Dogs like Zaoui Berezag, who was left paralysed.

Zaoui’s son Farid Berezag said: “Dad was left blind and brain-damaged and is still suffering. My mother died last year after 20 years caring for him and campaigning to get help for all Gaddafi’s victims—she had more courage than the government.”

Canary Wharf bomb victims Inam Bashir and John Jeffries. Picture: MIKE BROOKECanary Wharf bomb victims Inam Bashir and John Jeffries. Picture: MIKE BROOKE

The Semtex “made possible a deadly bombing campaign” in the 1980s nand 90s that included London Docklands, Harrod’s, Enniskillen, Warrington and elsewhere, the committee’s report points out.

The government should set up a fund if successful negotiations with Libya is unlikely by the end of 2017, it urges.

The committee is demanding to know why no compensation has been secured in 20 years.

Committee chair Laurence Robertson said: “One of our witnesses said they are the forgotten ones who successive governments, for reasons beyond my comprehension, have chosen to overlook.

“The government cannot allow missed chances to continue—the victims deserve our support.”

The government killed off a Parliamentary bill in February that could have released the £9.5 billion Gaddafi had stashed in London before his assassination in the 2011 Libyan uprising. An obscure Commons procedure was used to derail the bill already passed by the Lords.

The next government should hold negotiations with Libya for compensation, the committee stressed. Time is running out for many victims as they grow older.

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