Belfast Telegraph

Michelle O'Neill: Barry McElduff a champion for West Tyrone, Sinn Fein sanction proportionate and O Muilleoir issue dealt with

By Jonathan Bell

Sinn Fein Northern Ireland leader Michelle O'Neill has said Barry McElduff's three-month suspension from the party on full pay for his Kingsmill video was "proportionate" and the matter of Mairtin O Muilleoir retweeting the post has been settled.

The MLA said it took Mr McElduff 10 days to resign as he had taken the time to reflect on his actions and the reaction it generated before coming to the decision.

The Sinn Fein leader was speaking to the media after the West Tyrone MP announced he was standing down for the video he posted posing with a loaf of bread on his head on the anniversary of the Kingsmill massacre.

At a press conference, Ms O'Neill would only take questions from broadcast journalists and the Press Association. Three print journalists in attendance were blocked from asking questions.

Ms O'Neill described Mr McElduff as a "champion" for the people of West Tyrone for many years and thanked him for his commitment.

She defended not taking stronger action on Barry McElduff last week. After Sinn Fein chairman Declan Kearney condemned the video as "inexcusable and indefensible," the MP was given a three-month suspension from the party on full pay and was allowed to continue his work from his constituency office.

"I believe the action I took was proportionate," said Ms O'Neill.

"He caused hurt and didn't intend to do so, on reflection Barry himself does not want to be barrier to reconciliation he recognises that is a must if we are going to create a new society and I accept his decision. "

"I accept this is the best way forward.

She continued: "We have to heal the wounds of the past if we are going to create a new society and that means embracing all victims and their needs. It also means the implementation of previous agreements and the Stormont House Agreement."

The Mid Ulster MLA said her party were determined to restore the Stormont institutions which have laid dormant for the past year.

Asked if there would be any action taken after Sinn Fein MLA Mairtin O Muilleoir retweeted the video before later apologising, Ms O'Neill responded: "I spoke with Mairtin and he needs to consider his social media use, he needs to be more responsible in his social media use and that is the matter dealt with."

Families of murdered workmen attend an evening service in 1976 as six coffins of IRA victims are brought to church in Bessbrook the night before the funerals of those killed in the Provisional IRA's infamous sectarian Whitecross (Kingsmill) Massacre. The IRA lined up the occupants of a workers minibus carrying 11 protestants and one catholic, before releasing the catholic man and mowing down the 10 protestant workmen, leaving the critically injured Mr Alan Black for dead. Alan Lewis Photopress
Families of murdered workmen attend an evening service in 1976 as six coffins of IRA victims are brought to church in Bessbrook the night before the funerals of those killed in the Provisional IRA's infamous sectarian Whitecross (Kingsmill) Massacre. The IRA lined up the occupants of a workers minibus carrying 11 protestants and one catholic, before releasing the catholic man and mowing down the 10 protestant workmen, leaving the critically injured Mr Alan Black for dead. Alan Lewis Photopress
The victims of the Kingsmill massacre (clockwise from top left): Robert Chambers; John Bryans; Joseph Lemmon; James McWhirter; Robert Freeburn; Robert Walker; Reginald Chapman; Kenneth Worton; John McConville and Walter Chapman
Kimgsmill massacre aftermath
Walter Chapman
John McConville
Kenneth Worton
Reginald Chapman
Robert Walker
Robert Freeburn
James McWhirter
Joseph Lemmon
John Bryans
Robert Chambers
The funeral service for five victims of the Kingsmills massacre at the Presbyterian church grounds in Bessbrook
Alan Black was shot 18 times but survived the Kingsmills massacre
Alan Black in hospital after the IRA shot him and killed 10 of his colleagues at Kingsmills
Alan Black:Survivor of the Kingsmill, Armagh, Massacre/Shooting, when he was shot with his 10 workmates in an ambushon their way home from work by gunmen. Pictured at the Kingsmill Memorial monument. 4/1/1981
A man lays a wreath at the Kingsmill memorial in South Armagh (PA)
People attend a roadside service marking the 42nd anniversary of the Kingsmill massacre (Brian Lawless/PA)
Karen Armstrong holds a photograph of her brother John McConville, who was killed in the Kingsmill attack
Sisters Cathy Michale, Colleen McKenna and Eileen Reavey unveil the monument to commemorate their brothers in Whitecross, Armagh
The crowd assembled at the service of remembrance for the victims held at the Town Hall in Bessbrook yesterday to mark the 40th anniversary of the atrocity

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