SF display ‘lack of respect’ by choosing Barry McElduff for election again

Former Sinn Fein MP Barry McElduff with his selfie of him with a loaf of Kingsmill bread on his head.
Former Sinn Fein MP Barry McElduff with his selfie of him with a loaf of Kingsmill bread on his head.

Victims say they still do not accept Barry McElduff’s claim not to have deliberately mocked them, after Sinn Fein announced it will stand him once again for election.

Victims say they still do not accept Barry McElduff’s claim not to have deliberately mocked them, after Sinn Fein announced it will stand him once again for election.

Former West Tyrone MP McElduff caused controversy on January 5 when he tweeted a clip of himself balancing a Kingsmill loaf on his head, on the day of the 42nd anniversary of the IRA massacre of 10 Protestant civilians at Kingsmills in south Armagh.

He had been a vociferous supporter of IRA man Raymond McCreesh, who was arrested with a Kingsmills weapon three months after the slaughter, saying he was “a hero and a martyr” and deserved a Nobel prize.

But after rising criticism, he resigned as MP 10 days after the Kingsmills loaf tweet. Now Sinn Fein has announced it will stand him in the local government elections next year.

In a statement, McElduff said he was “honoured to be selected”.

He added: “For my own part, I have been proud to serve people across West Tyrone over the past 20 years and I look forward to the campaign ahead and to be part of a dynamic team that will return the maximum amount of Sinn Fein councillors.”

Kingsmills survivor Alan Black, who was riddled with bullets in the attack, said he has no issue with him standing, but still does not accept his claim that the tweet was innocent.

“No, I never will,” he told the News Letter. “It is just ridiculous that he didn’t know. He is a very astute politician, he knows what is going on around him. So he did know and as far as I am concerned I have no interest in either meeting him or even talking about him again.”

Colin Worton, whose brother Kenneth was murdered in the massacre, takes the same view.

“He was always in the inner circle and it was only a matter of time until he was brought back into the fold,” he said.

“It is not even a year since he posted that video, only nine months, and already he is back in the Sinn Fein spotlight. But it is still too soon.”

They both agreed that around the time of the tweet, jokes linking the massacre to Kingsmill bread were circulating among republicans.

DUP West Tyrone MLA Thomas Buchanan said the decision of SF “does send a message to innocent victims about how little respect SF has for them. But this is no surprise from the same party which named a playground after the man who was found in possession of the gun used to murder ten innocent men.”

UUP Omagh councillor Chris Smyth said he was “appalled” at Sinn Fein’s decision adding that “Sinn Fein know full well the impact that selecting him will have”.

Kenny Donaldson, spokesman for Innocent Victims United, said: “Innocent victims and survivors of terrorism and many others will be dismayed but in no way surprised by this latest development”.

He said many people will conclude the reason Sinn Fein replaced McElduff as MP with a young female solicitor was to promote a new brand for the party, “not because of the offence caused to Kingsmills families”.