O Muilleoir's defence of McElduff Kingsmill video retweet 'pathetic,' says Allister
TUV leader Jim Allister has branded "pathetic" Mairtin O Muilleoir's insistence that he retweeted Barry McElduff's Kingsmill video innocently and thought it was apolitical.
After Mr O Muilleoir yesterday broke his silence over the controversy, Mr Allister said he didn't accept his explanation and called on the Sinn Fein politician to resign.
The DUP also asked why the South Belfast MLA hadn't followed the West Tyrone MP's example and stepped down.
The normally media-friendly politician has appeared to have adopted a more low-key profile in recent weeks, but he attended an Irish language event at Stormont yesterday.
When asked by the BBC about retweeting Mr McElduff's Kingsmill video, he said: "It was a wholly innocent tweet in my view. I thought it was wholly apolitical. I wouldn't have tweeted it on any other basis and I apologised at the time."
The video showed Mr McElduff posing with a loaf of Kingsmill bread on his head on the 42nd anniversary of the massacre in which 10 Protestant workers were shot dead by the IRA in south Armagh.
Asked if he had made a mistake, Mr O Muilleoir replied: "Absolutely, and even Homer nods."
He said he believed that the matter was now closed.
Mr Allister said: "Mairtin O Muilleoir has finally come out of hiding in the belief that the storm has died down.
"His assertion that it was an innocent tweet which was apolitical is pathetic. Nobody with any political nous could believe that and Mr O Muilleoir diminishes himself by even trying to peddle this nonsense."
Mr Allister insisted that Mr McElduff's video had been "a calculated swipe at the Kingsmill victims" and he called on Mr O Muilleoir to resign.
DUP MLA William Irwin said: "After a few weeks of hiding from media, Mairtin O'Muilleoir appears to think that people will have forgotten about the offence caused by his and Barry McElduff's actions.
"It is notable that his justification for sharing the video is no different than that of Barry McElduff for posting the stunt in the first place. Given there is no difference even after all this time between the words of Mairtin O'Muilleoir and Barry McElduff, we are left to ask why there is a difference between the actions of these two men."
Mr Irwin said it was "right that Mr Elduff resigned... the question remains as to why Mairtin O'Muilleoir thinks he can behave differently".
UUP MLA Doug Beattie said: "Politicians, like everybody else, are fallible. Mairtin O Muilleoir has held his hands up. It was a pretty awful mistake that he made and it is hard to accept his assertion that the tweet was apolitical.
"As an elected representative, the issue is now personally over for me. But whether that's also the case for the Kingsmill victims, their families and the wider victims' community is another matter. It's entirely their call.
"They may well view Mairtin O Muilloeir's response as unsatisfactory."
Kenny Donaldson of the Innocent Victims United group was critical of the Sinn Fein MLA's response yesterday.
"He has learnt nothing from this episode and I believe has shown a distinct lack of humility. His denial that the video was political is at loggerheads with the position of others in his own party," he said.
"Many within the victims' community believe that Mairtin O Muilleoir should have faced the same sanction as Barry McElduff for sharing the video."