Foster: Sinn Fein have to stop eulogising terrorists

DUP leader Arlene Foster has said that Sinn Fein's continued 'eulogising of terrorists' is hampering efforts to build a shared future in Northern Ireland.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 11th January 2018, 7:57 am
Updated Thursday, 11th January 2018, 9:00 am
Sinn Fein MP Barry McElduff has put his party under scrutiny after a video said to mock the Kingsmills victims
Sinn Fein MP Barry McElduff has put his party under scrutiny after a video said to mock the Kingsmills victims

Mrs Foster delivered the blunt message as further pressure was put on Sinn Fein to acknowledge that the IRA carried out the 1976 atrocity in which 10 Protestant workers were murdered.

The party’s West Tyrone MP Barry McElduff has put Sinn Fein in a position of scrutiny after he posed for a video with a Kingsmill-branded loaf on his head on the anniversary of the Kingsmills massacre.

The UUP’s Danny Kennedy, along with victims’ campaigner William Frazer and Colin Worton, whose brother Kenneth was murdered at Kingsmills, have called for Sinn Fein to condemn the massacre as well as the video clip.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The bullet-riddled minibus in which the murdered Protestant workers were travelling in January 1976

They also challenged Sinn Fein to admit the IRA was responsible.

On Wednesday they were joined by Fianna Fáil foreign affairs spokesman Darragh O’Brien who said Mary Lou McDonald – Gerry Adams likely replacement as Sinn Fein president some time later this year – needs to acknowledge the Provisional IRA carried out the sectarian atrocity.

Sinn Fein was asked, in light of the pressure being put on the party for a response, as to whether the party accepted that the Provisional IRA committed the Kingsmills massacre.The same response as the previous day was given: “Regardless of who carried out the attack at Kingsmills Sinn Fein spokespersons have condemned it as wrong, unjustified and sectarian in nature.”

Speaking to BBC Newsline, a former IRA man who left the republican movement in protest at the Kingsmills killings said he “feared [Barry McElduff] knew what he was doing” with his post on social media.

The bullet-riddled minibus in which the murdered Protestant workers were travelling in January 1976

Martin McAllister said: “To put it in perspective, I can’t hear the name Kingsmill bread mentioned without immediately flashing back to what happened. So how could he miss that?”

He said Mr McElduff’s video post was “profound, disgusting sectarianism”.

Mrs Foster claimed the controversy around the West Tyrone MP’s social media video was just one of many instances where SF members showed disrespect to the victims sector.

“They have to stop eulogising terrorists,” she said.

“If we are building a new shared future for the people of Northern Ireland, let’s build it, but let’s move away from the past and move away from the eulogising of terrorists.”

Mrs Foster added: “We have listened to lectures on respect for a whole year and it’s very easy to demand respect, but apparently it is not very easy to give respect, and Sinn Fein have not given respect to the victims community here in Northern Ireland and, by definition, the whole wider community in Northern Ireland.”

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he believed the video to be “a genuine error of judgment”.

“I think what Mr McElduff did was very foolish and very inappropriate and very hurtful,” he said.

“Given his previous content on social media I think perhaps it was a genuine error of judgment rather than an attempt to deliberately insult the families of victims, nonetheless it was egregious and unacceptable.”