PSNI: We will investigate Barry McElduff Twitter video
Police in Northern Ireland are probing a Twitter video of a Sinn Fein MP with a Kingsmill-branded loaf on his head posted on the anniversary of the Kingsmill massacre.
Barry McElduff has apologised for Friday’s post, insisting it was not meant as a reference to the republican murders of 10 Protestant workmen in 1976.
Police Service of Northern Ireland superintendent Emma Bond said: “Police have received a number of reports of a post on a social media platform, made by a local public representative. Enquiries are ongoing.”
The well-known Kingsmill brand of bread shares a name with the south Armagh 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, West Tyrone MP Mr McElduff, who is known for his light-hearted social media contributions, is filmed walking around a shop with a Kingsmill loaf on his head, asking where the store kept the bread.
It was posted on the 42nd anniversary of the Kingsmill outrage.
Some accused Mr McElduff of making a tasteless reference to the atrocity, with a number of unionist politicians calling for his resignation.
On Saturday, the republican MP deleted the video and apologised.
“When I posted the video I had not realised or imagined for a second that there was any possible link between the brand name of the bread and the Kingsmill anniversary,” he said.
“It was never my intention to hurt or cause offence to anyone and in particular to victims of the conflict who have suffered so grievously.
“I apologise unreservedly for the hurt and pain this post has caused.”
Democratic Unionist leader Arlene Foster expressed her anger on Twitter.
“Kingsmill victims were shot by the IRA after being asked their religion,” she said.
“Shame on any elected rep who posted that inhuman video. I feel sorry for IRA victims & West Tyrone who have McElduff as their MP. All murder was wrong. Glorifying any murderer is sickening. Mocking is depraved.”
SDLP Assembly member Daniel McCrossan said: “Barry McElduff styles himself as a class clown but clearly this time his comments have, deliberately or not, crossed a line. It’s right that he has apologised.
“Mr McElduff clearly gave no thought to the Kingsmills victims.
“You have to ask, though, why does the MP for West Tyrone have time to film himself running around with a loaf on his head during one of the most unstable periods in the recent history of this island.”
TUV leader Jim Allister said it stretched the “bounds of credibility well beyond breaking point” to suggest it was not a deliberate reference to the Kingsmill attack.
“Sinn Fein’s utter contempt for victims is clearly on display here,” he said.
“Any talk of equality or human rights from that party is once again exposed as so much cant and hypocrisy.”
Ulster Unionist councillor David Taylor claimed Mr McElduff was unfit to be a public representative.
“Barry McElduff really is beyond contempt and should be truly ashamed of himself for his actions,” he said.
Alliance Party leader Naomi Long tweeted Mr McElduff: “I see you have deleted your video. Will you also explain what on earth you were thinking of, posting this on the anniversary of the Kingsmills Massacre?”
Mr McElduff later offered to meet relatives of the Kingsmill victims.
He tweeted: “Mindful of unintended hurt caused to victims’ families I would be very willing to meet with Kingsmill Massacre families if they were willing.”