Barry McElduff will not be prosecuted over Kingsmill social media post

A former Sinn Fein MP who quit after posing with a Kingsmill-branded loaf on his head on the anniversary of the Kingsmill massacre will not be prosecuted.

Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service (PPS) said there was insufficient evidence to provide a reasonable prospect of convicting Barry McElduff, 52, over his controversial social media post.

Barry McElduff

Barry McElduff

The PPS announced it will also not be taking action against Sinn Fein Assembly member and former Stormont finance minister Mairtin O Muilleoir, 58, who shared Mr McElduff’s video on Twitter.

Again, the PPS said there was insufficient evidence.

It is understood the PPS was unable to establish that either man deliberately intended to cause offence - a requirement if a prosecution was to have been successful.

Mr McElduff resigned as West Tyrone MP in January after families of some of the 10 Protestant workmen shot dead by republican paramilitaries in 1976 expressed outrage at the video.

The Sinn Fein veteran has always maintained he had not meant the video as a reference to the sectarian murders of 10 Protestant workmen near th south Armagh village of Kingsmill.

He said he was unaware he had posted it on the 42nd anniversary of the attack.

However, Mr McElduff, who had already been suspended by Sinn Fein for three months when he announced his resignation, acknowledged the post had caused unintentional hurt to the Kingsmill families.

He said staying in the job would have impeded efforts to forge reconciliation in Northern Ireland.

Mr McElduff was interviewed by detectives in April and questioned over alleged improper use of a public electronic communications network under the Communications Act 2003, and two alleged public order offences under the Public Order (NI) Order 1989.

Mr O Muilleoir, who was questioned by police over an alleged breach of the Communications Act 2003, insisted he had not meant an offence by retweeting what at the time he thought was a “wholly apolitical” post.

PPS assistant director Martin Hardy said: “We have given detailed consideration to the evidence provided by police in respect of the two men reported and have concluded that it is insufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of obtaining a conviction against either for any offence.

“The PPS acknowledges the content of the video posted on the anniversary of the Kingsmill murders caused a great deal of hurt to those directly affected by the atrocity and many others in the wider community.

“We have written to the next of kin of the Kingsmill victims, and the attack’s survivor, to explain in detail the rationale for the decision.

“Whilst we recognise the outcome is disappointing to those offended by the content and timing of the video, we can offer assurance that these decisions were reached only after the most careful examination of all evidence and information available.”

Kingsmill is a well-known brand of bread in Northern Ireland.

It shares a name with the village that witnessed one of the most notorious incidents of the Troubles, when gunmen stopped a van carrying textile workers on their way home, identified the Protestant occupants, lined them up at the side of the road and shot them.

Only one of the 11 men gunned down survived the attack.

In the video Mr McElduff, who had been known for his lighthearted social media contributions, is at one point filmed walking around a shop with a Kingsmill loaf on his head asking where the store kept the bread.

Sinn Fein easily held on to the West Tyrone seat in May’s by-election, with solicitor Orfhlaith Begley succeeding Mr McElduff.