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All the best: we talk to Sinn Fein MLA Barry McElduff

By Kerry McKittrick

Published 18/04/2016

Political survivor: Barry McElduff
Political survivor: Barry McElduff

The 49-year-old was the Sinn Fein MLA for West Tyrone. He is married to Paula and they have three grown-up children — Niamh, Blathnaid and Patrick.

My best moment

Scoring a goal for Carrickmore in the GAA Championship against Augher in 1988. It was a great goal to score so I keep boasting about it. The match was a draw in the end.

My best song

I like The Wonder Of You as sung by Elvis Presley. It’s a very evocative song and it has a great start. Elvis died on my birthday in 1977 when I was 11. Being in Sinn Fein I’m not a royalist, but I have always paid tribute to Elvis Presley as the King of rock ‘n’ roll.

My best way to relax

I have a very simple method. I sit down with a mug of tea and read a newspaper. I’m a traditionalist so I love a hard copy newspaper in my hand, and I like a mug of strong tea with very little milk in it. It’s nice to take a few minutes to just sit and relax. I find it takes you away from the madding crowd a bit.

My best job

This is all I’ve even done. It’s politics, but I like to think of it as public representation and it’s something I have always enjoyed taking part in. If I was going to do something else I would like to have had my own radio programme in the style of Chris Evans or Ryan Tubridy. It would be great to have my own little rave.

My best advice

There was an unusual piece that was given to me once by a country man from mid-Tyrone. He told me that as I entered public life that I shouldn't try to impress anyone. I asked him why not and he told me it was because I wouldn’t. It’s something that’s stayed with me over the years — be yourself and don’t try to impress anyone.

Another thing I was told once was if you have something to say that goes against the grain, maybe say it once, maybe say it twice but don’t say it three times. The point being if you can’t get people to start agreeing with you then perhaps you should leave the whole thing alone.

My best gift

A size five O’Neill’s football that my parents bought me. I have a great love of Gaelic football and I define happiness as dribbling a size five O’Neill’s football between hand and toe. A size five is the adult size you would order in a shop. I think a lot of past and present Gaelic players would say the same thing.

My best achievement

Surviving politics for so long because it requires lethal stamina and application. I’ve been in politics since I got involved at Queen’s University more than 20 years ago. You absorb a lot of negative energy coming from people so you have to be very tough and thick-skinned.

My best buy

I’m not particularly materialistic, but I do like inspirational pictures. I bought a few with sporting themes and they adorn the walls of my office at Stormont. They’re of sporting greats such as Muhammad Ali, Katie Taylor the boxer and Peter Canavan who played Gaelic football. I like that kind of thing — they get given to me too.

Best film

The Michael Collins film with Liam Neeson. It was a very emotional film. I’m not much of a movie buff, but I think it’s one of the things people miss when they’re caught up in public life. I remember asking Danny Morrison why he stepped away from politics and he told me that he wanted to go to the cinema. I thought it was a great answer. You miss the simple things and going to the cinema is certainly one of them

Best book

I particularly like Nelson Mandela’s The Long Road To Freedom. That’s some book and there is some wisdom contained in those pages. I do like biographies and historical books like that but this is one has really stuck with me ever since I read it 

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