Northern Ireland

Sinn Féin MP apology over Kingsmill tweet on massacre anniversary

Barry McElduff Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Barry McElduff posted the video shortly after midnight on 5 January

A Sinn Féin MP has apologised after posting a video of himself with a loaf of Kingsmill bread on his head on the anniversary of the Kingsmills massacre.

Barry McElduff has now deleted the tweet, which was posted shortly after midnight on 5 January.

Ten Protestants were murdered by the IRA in the massacre on 5 January 1976.

Mr McElduff said he had no intention to offend and has offered to meet the families of the victims but unionists have condemned his actions.

The police have said they have received "a number of reports of a post on a social media platform, made by a local public representative. Enquiries are ongoing."

In the original post, Mr McElduff says he is in a service station, then, mentioning the name of the shop, asks where they keep their bread while walking with the loaf balancing on his head.

The DUP MP for South Belfast Emma Little-Pengelly said people are outraged by the video and demanded a full explanation from Mr McElduff.

"I don't think that anyone can put this down to simple tomfoolery," she said.

Image caption Ten Protestant workmen were murdered in the 1976 Kingsmills massacre

"The absolute horror of the sectarian murders at Kingsmill is seared on the consciousness of people right across the community in Northern Ireland.

"Not only was this the anniversary of that terrible act, but it was also in the context of the where the inquest into Kingsmills is happening.

"I think people find it unbelievable that he as an MP would not have made that connection."

Newry, Mourne and Down Ulster Unionist councillor David Taylor said Mr McElduff should be ashamed of himself.

"I pose this question to Mr McElduff and to Sinn Féin - where is the respect shown to the families of the victims of the Kingsmills Massacre with disgusting actions like this?" he said.

"This provides clear evidence of Sinn Féin's real attitude towards the victims of republican violence and towards unionism in general."

His party colleague, councillor Chris Smyth, said he would be reporting Mr McElduff to the Commons Standards Committee and to the PSNI.

'Utter contempt for victims'

Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister said: "It stretches the bounds of credibility well beyond breaking point to suggest that it is anything other than deliberate that this video was posted on the same day as the 42nd anniversary of the Kingsmills massacre.

"Sinn Féin's utter contempt for victims is clearly on display here. Any talk of equality or human rights from that party is once again exposed as so much cant and hypocrisy."

Alliance Party leader Naomi Long tweeted to 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?

"Have you any apology to make to those victims and survivors deeply hurt by your antics whether deliberate or not?"

SDLP MLA 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.

He added: "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."

'Never my intention to offend'

In his apology, Mr McElduff said: "Had not realised or imagined for a second any possible link between product brand name and Kingsmills anniversary.

"Further, I apologise for any hurt or offence caused. Never my intention to offend anyone who has suffered grievously."

In a later statement, he added: "I apologise unreservedly for the hurt and pain this post has caused."

The 10 workmen were shot dead on 5 January 1976 after the gunmen stopped their van and asked which among them was a Catholic, and instructed that man to leave the scene.

At the time it was claimed by a group calling itself the South Armagh Republican Action Force.

The Historical Enquiries Team of the PSNI later stated that the attack was carried out by Provisional IRA members.

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