Belfast Telegraph

McElduff a man of integrity, says McAreavey

by staff reporter

The widower of honeymoon murder victim Michaela McAreavey has defended Barry McElduff over his controversial Kingsmill video, saying the Sinn Fein MP wouldn't have tried to deliberately cause hurt.

The vast majority of opinion online was critical of Mr McElduff after he posted video of himself larking about with a Kingsmill branded loaf on his head on the anniversary of the massacre.

However, Mr McAreavey tweeted in defence of the under-fire West Tyrone MP.

He said in the post: "Anyone who personally knows Barry McElduff will know he's a man of great dignity, integrity & kindness.

"I believe his character isn't capable of being snide & malicious. He would never say or do anything to intentionally hurt anyone."

But Ann Travers, whose sister Mary was murdered and her father wounded in an IRA ambush after attending Mass in Belfast in 1984, took issue with that view.

"I'm sorry John, being a public representative in NI is a challenging job and with it brings the need for mindfulness as well as integrity," she said.

"Neither was demonstrated by Barry McElduff.

"This is a serious lack of judgement."

Mr McAreavey's view was retweeted by Fermanagh and South Tyrone Sinn Fein MLA Colm Gildernew, who said Mr McElduff was "a true and valued friend".

He added: "It is my belief that Barry would never intentionally insult or hurt any victim of this or any other conflict.

"It is my view that his swift and fulsome apology is both appropriate and sincere."

Many of those speaking out were IRA victims. Austin Stack, whose prison officer father Brian Stack was killed by the IRA in the Republic in 1983, called on Mary Lou McDonald, who is expected to succeed Gerry Adams as Sinn Fein leader, to start internal disciplinary proceedings against Mr McElduff and the party's former Finance Minister Mairtin O Muilleoir, who retweeted the video.

"These people are beyond contempt, no place for his likes in a decent society," Mr Stack tweeted.

The row moved outside politics as others made their anger known.

Boxer Carl Frampton said: "I don't normally comment on politics and I don't care of your political view but what Barry McElduff did was disgraceful and shameful.

"Hard to comprehend how someone in his position could do that. Idiotic! Stick to the politics and stop trying to be a comedian."

A petition calling on the MP to resign has already attracted more than 10,000 signatures. One of those who has signed it is Claire Monteith, whose brother Alan died in the Omagh bomb.

Writing on the petition site, she said: "As a sister of someone whose life was taken away by these cowards I cannot watch others suffer at the actions that continue by SF/IRA.

"This not only reminds me of what has happened to myself and my family, but it manifests how we haven't moved forward. Victims are continually victimised by those who we are surrounded by.

"I refuse to let my voice be unheard."

SDLP South Belfast MLA Claire Hanna described the video as "shocking and appalling".

Belfast Telegraph

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