Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein's McElduff in new business venture after Kingsmill furore

By Jane Scott

Ex-Sinn Fein MP Barry McElduff is set to return to public life as he prepares to launch a new advice and consultancy business in the coming weeks.

Six months after he was forced to quit his post following footage of him posing with a Kingsmill-branded loaf on his head on the anniversary of the Kingsmill massacre, the former West Tyrone representative is about to relaunch his career by unveiling his new business, BME Consultancy and Advice.

Based in Omagh, Mr McElduff claims he will be making use of his past political experience by turning his attention towards helping members of the public in any of their dealings with government departments, public bodies and statutory agencies.

Flyers promoting his new enterprise have been distributed around the town this week while a Facebook page has also been set up in recent days. Mr McElduff has acquired a unit in Omagh Enterprise Centre and is now advertising that he is taking appointments from potential clients for August and September.

When contacted by the Belfast Telegraph yesterday, Mr McElduff confirmed that he was in the process of setting up his new business but declined to comment further "at this point in time".

According to the business flyers, BME "will provide strong support, solid advice and good guidance" to business or community groups and individuals. The services offered will include all aspects of public affairs and lobbying, guidance on planning policies and protocols, help to secure welfare rights and social security entitlements and access to information on grant aid.

The 51-year-old former abstentionist MP resigned on January 15 after less than a year in the job and 10 days after the online furore first erupted.

He had already been suspended by his party for three months after the controversy flared when he posted a video of himself with a Kingsmill loaf on his head in a shop in Omagh on the 42nd anniversary of the Kingsmill massacre.

Mr McElduff said at the time of his resignation that staying in his job would have impeded efforts to forge reconciliation here.

The Carrickmore man has continued to insist he had not meant the video as a reference to the sectarian murders of 10 Protestant workmen by republican paramilitaries near the south Armagh village of Kingsmill on January 5, 1976.

However, he acknowledged the post had caused unintentional hurt to the Kingsmill families.

West Tyrone has always been a safe Sinn Fein seat and the party held onto it in the subsequent by-election called in May to replace Mr McElduff.

Carrickmore solicitor Orfhlaith Begley (26) secured 16,346 votes and a 47% share of the poll compared to the 22,000 votes and 51% share won by Mr McElduff when he was elected last year to replace outgoing party veteran Pat Doherty.

Father-of-three Mr McElduff has maintained a low profile and stayed silent over recent months as he attempted to recover from the controversy. He has not tweeted since January 6 when he deleted the video post and apologised for any hurt or offence caused.

In March Mr McElduff attended Omagh PSNI station voluntarily to answer questions over the online video following complaints.

He was questioned over an alleged improper use of a public electronic communications network under the Communications Act 2003, and two alleged public order offences under the Public Order (NI) Order 1989.

A report is being prepared for the Public Prosecution Service but no decision has yet been made on whether or not Mr McElduff will face prosecution over the matter.

Belfast Telegraph

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