Suspended MP Barry McElduff has shown “further disrespect” to families of the Kingmills massacre by continuing to carry out constituency work from his office.
The News Letter contacted Mr McElduff’s office in Omagh yesterday, and were informed that while the West Tyrone member has been suspended from all party activities, he is already back behind his desk and dealing with constituents’ issues.
It comes just days after he was sanctioned by his party for posting a controversial video on Twitter, showing him posing with a loaf of Kingsmill-branded bread on the anniversary of the Kingsmills atrocity.
While he later apologised for the tweet and insisted he did not intend to cause offence, the stunt caused outrage and led to many people calling for Mr McElduff to resign his Westminster seat.
His subsequent three-month suspension with full pay compounded the situation and Sinn Fein was heavily criticised for its leniency.
And the revelation that under-fire Mr McElduff is already back at work in his constituency office has drawn further criticism, with Ulster Unionist MLA Robbie Butler describing it as “yet another insult to victims”.
He told the News Letter: “This only confirms to me that Barry McElduff is not sorry for what he did.
“If his remorse was sincere then he would not be back at work just days after causing such huge offence and hurt to families of the Kingsmills victims.
“The measure which Sinn Fein took against him held no weight whatsoever. This is Mr McElduff showing to the world that he can do what he likes.”
DUP MLA William Irwin said it was “disgraceful” that Mr McElduff has resumed his political duties so soon after the controversy he ignited last Friday.
“The punishment meted out by Sinn Fein was not really a punishment at all,” he told the News Letter.
“They did the bare minimum that they could to sanction Mr McElduff. It was an exercise in trying to take the heat off him.
“It has made no difference whatsoever to his political way of life and it will undoubtedly cause further hurt to the Kingsmills families to learn that he is back at work already.”
As part of his suspension from all party activity, it is understood the West Tyrone MP will be barred from voting in next month’s Sinn Fein leadership election.
The News Letter asked Sinn Fein to comment on Mr McElduff’s return to work, but we received no response.