Belfast Telegraph

Family's anger at Barry McElduff 'playing the victim' over Kingsmill video

By Victoria Leonard

Relatives of a man who died at Kingsmill have accused former Sinn Fein MP Barry McElduff of shamelessly casting himself as a victim after he described 2018 as the most difficult year of his life.

It came after Mr McElduff spoke about how he had been affected by controversy over a video in which he posed with a loaf of Kingsmill-branded bread on the 42nd anniversary of the IRA atrocity. Mr McElduff told the Ulster Herald that he felt a "sense of injustice" about how the situation was "manipulated by others."

He added that he didn't "want to be a martyr" and again offered to meet the Kingsmill families.

And he didn't rule out standing again for Sinn Fein, after the Public Prosecution Service announced on Wednesday that it would not be prosecuting him over the video incident.

In a separate BBC interview, Mr McElduff said he received several death threats since the incident at the start of the year.

He described the post as a "quirk of his personality" which "backfired". Saying it was a "cruel coincidence", he insisted he doesn't have a "sectarian bone in his body".

Mr McElduff had already received a three-month suspension from Sinn Fein when he resigned his West Tyrone seat in January.

He said at the time that his greatest regret was the "deep and unnecessary hurt" his video caused the Kingsmill families.

Mr McElduff insisted that he had not meant the video as a reference to the Kingsmill murders, and was unaware he had posted it on the anniversary of the 1976 attack, in which 10 people died.

Colin Worton, whose 24-year-old brother Kenneth was among the victims, said Mr McElduff's experience was "nothing compared to what the families who have lost loves ones have gone through since 1976".

"He brought it on himself, and he has no right to complain," Mr Worton said.

"Our difficult times started in 1976, and it went downhill.

"If he's a wee bit upset now he should think of how the families were feeling in January.

"He was insensitive. What he put on social media would have been 10 times worse for us than what he is going through now.

"Every anniversary is really bad for the families, including my mother.

"We didn't even know that my mother was getting hoax calls about Kingsmill bread until McElduff made his comments.

"He is casting himself in the role of a victim, and he can't cast himself as a victim. He is shameless.

"He doesn't even know what injustice means. He doesn't know what the words dignified, respect or martyr mean.

"He should be remembering the ones on the minibus who shielded the sole Catholic."

Mr Worton said he and the families of other victims would have "nothing to say" to Mr McElduff.

"I think the only time I would meet him would be if he came out and it was a fulsome apology," he added.

"What he has said I believe is only from the teeth out, it isn't from the heart."

He added: "There's no prospect of us meeting on this side of eternity, unless he comes to his senses.

"I would say 100% of the families would share my feelings.

"Why do these things in the first place and then try and get the moral ground again?"

Speaking to the Ulster Herald, Mr McElduff did not rule out a return to politics with Sinn Fein.

But Mr Worton urged him to "leave the stage and go" rather than consider a return to political life.

"No doubt Sinn Fein will take him back, but they shouldn't," he added.

"He should just go away and withdraw completely from public life."

Mr Worton's 91-year-old mother Bea said she might be convinced to meet with Mr McElduff, but only "to tell him what I thought of him".

"It definitely wouldn't be because I accepted his explanation," she said.

"It would be to voice my hurt directly to him.

"I think he is trying to pass the buck.

"My family has been under stress for 42 years.

"This whole thing has exhausted me, and the anniversary in January is coming up again.

"I'm 91 now and I worry I'll never get justice for my son. Ours is a life sentence.

"It would be shameless for him to stand again, he shouldn't even be considering a return to political life."

Sinn Fein did not respond when asked if it would be willing to consider fielding Mr McElduff as a political candidate again at any level in the future.

Belfast Telegraph

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