Northern Ireland Secretary in bid for victims cash deal 19 years after IRA Canary Wharf bomb
PUBLISHED: 12:28 16 July 2015 | UPDATED: 08:15 17 July 2015
Victims of the 1996 IRA bombing at Canary Wharf could soon receive pensions for their injuries or loss of relatives, the Northern Ireland Secretary has hinted.
Theresa Villiers met a delegation from the Docklands Victims Association in Whitehall yesterday and promised to resolve the long-standing question of compensation after 19 years.
She is to speak to the Justice Secretary to “rectify this injustice”, the delegation was told.
Yesterday’s meeting discussed proposed legislation in the Stormont Assembly on pensions for those caught up in the 30-year conflict which excludes those killed and injured in the rest of the UK.
It follows a long campaign led by former security guard Jonathan Ganesh from Limehouse, who was injured in the blast at the Midland Bank headquarters and had to be rescued from the rubble.
“It was sadly wrong of the Northern Ireland Assembly to disregard those on the mainland suffering and left severely disabled by terrorism,” Jonathan told the East London Advertiser after meeting the Northern Ireland Secretary.
“All victims are equal regardless of religion or location—those in Docklands also need access to pensions for their severe disabilities.”
He set up the victims’ pressure group after 1996 to lobby for compensation from Libya’s Gaddafi regime which supplied semtex to the IRA who drove a lorry packed with the explosive outside the Midland Bank in February, 1996.
The blast they set off wrecked the tower block and blew out windows on the nearby Barkantine housing estate in Millwall. Two men were killed at a news stand and scores were injured.
Hamida Bashir, whose son Inam was killed in the blast, said: “I have no need of a pension, but have sympathy with those who survived with horrific injuries who need this help now.”
Negotiations with the Libyans failed, leaving the Docklands families without financial help—and now facing a double blow from exclusion from the Northern Ireland compensation deal.
Gemma Berezag from the Barkantine Estate, whose husband Zaoui was left blind, paralysed, brained damaged and eventually lost a leg, said this week: “How could they consider giving pensions to the bad men who caused all the terrorism and not help those innocent victims who need help in mainland?
“Zaoui and others like him also need help so we can provide better care.”
The families have now written to the Justice Secretary to intervene and say they were “encouraged” by Theresa Villiers meeting them.