When Barry McElduff resigned in January I stated that given the hurt caused to victims by the contempt and disrespect demonstrated by members of Sinn Fein, that the resulting by-election should provide them with a voice, and ideally see a non-partisan candidate, who could gain cross community support, stand in the election to send a strong message that the disrespect shown to victims of terrorism will not be tolerated.
I am still of that firm belief.
It is clear that Sinn Fein has learnt nothing from the appalling disrespect shown by Barry McElduff.
Only last week they failed to condemn the banner put on display in Newry describing one of the IRA’s most ruthless terrorists caught in possession of one of the murder weapons used at Kingsmills ‘our hero’.
Given that McElduff resigned over his own insult directed at the Kingsmills’ victims, it is appalling that Sinn Fein can sit and acquiesce whilst yet another insult is put on visual display in Newry.
It seems that nothing has changed in terms of Sinn Fein’s attitude towards victims of terrorism and for that reason I will continue to do what I can to facilitate a voice for victims in the forthcoming by-election and I thank those who have been doing what they can as well.
However, time is short with nominations closing on 10th April.
If it cannot be achieved, we will have to consider other options.
Robin Swann MLA, Ulster Unionist Party leader, North Antrim