Belfast Telegraph

Resignation was right but has come a week too late, say Omagh residents

By Donna Deeney

The general consensus yesterday in Omagh town centre - where Barry McElduff's constituency office is located - is that the Sinn Fein politician had finally done the right thing by resigning.

One week on from the start of the Kingsmill controversy, there was little sympathy for the former West Tyrone MP.

Bernard Conlan recalled the events that led to Mr McElduff's resignation. He said: "A week is a long time in politics for sure as we have seen in the town here for ourselves.

"Only the individual himself knows the motivation behind it and his rationale for doing what he did, when he did it.

"I've met the man once or twice and I have no reason to doubt his explanation wasn't genuine - but at the end of the day none of us will truly know his reasons.

"I listened to an interview with Alan Black (the sole survivor of the Kingsmill massacre) which was very, very powerful.

"All of us who live in this place, irrespective of our political views and outlook on life, would do well do to heed what he said."

Sam McKelvey did not accept Mr McElduff's explanation that the offence his video caused was unintended, but he said he was right to step down.

He said: "I think it was a prank that went badly wrong and then he couldn't retract what he had done and the harm he had done. I don't think he thought the prank would have went as far as it did but I do think it was related to the Kingsmill massacre. It was too specific that it was a Kingsmill loaf on the day of the anniversary.

"I really do think he was right to resign, that will keep everybody happy. I think he should have resigned long before this but he has done it and that's the main thing.

"Better late than never as the say but him asking people to believe it was a mistake is a step too far. His suspension for three months on full pay wasn't a punishment, it was, as everybody said a holiday."

Jackie Ballard said news of Mr McElduff's resignation was welcome, adding: "It is a week after when it should have come but nonetheless I am glad he had done this at last."

Hugh Donnelly echoed the sentiments but didn't think the debacle would affect the outcome of the upcoming West Tyrone by-election. He said: "I don't think he did it intentionally but it is hard to be sure. He was certainly very foolish for doing it at all and he has done the right thing for him to resign.

"He has caused a lot of hurt to the families of those who died which is completely understandable. Anyone would be the same if it was their brother who died like that.

"I don't think his resignation will affect Sinn Fein in this area when it comes to the by-election but he might be a bit of a loss to them because I have heard a lot of people saying he has done a lot."

Lisa Parker said the feelings of the families directly impacted by the Kingsmill massacre had to be paramount.

She said: "The hurt caused to the families is more important than anything else.

"He said this is what made him decide to go and that was certainly the right thing to do and it was also right for his party to accept it. I saw the video he posted and after seeing that it was only but right he resigned."

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