Belfast Telegraph

Time for McElduff to drop the comedy act and behave like MP, says ex-Sinn Fein councillor

By Staff Reporter

A councillor who quit Sinn Fein has criticised Barry McElduff's Kingsmill tweet, saying the MP should stop "acting the comedian".

Sorcha McAnespy, who left the party in 2016 amid accusations of misogyny and nepotism, said Mr McElduff's behaviour was inexcusable for someone in his position.

"What he did was offensive and hurtful," said councillor McAnespy, who now sits as an independent on Fermanagh and Omagh District Council.

"He claims it was accidental, but whatever the truth of it, that sort of thing is not befitting of an elected representative."

Ms McAnespy added there was far too much work to be done in Mr McElduff's constituency to get embroiled in rows online.

"There are so many issues here," she said. "We don't have decent broadband, our infrastructure needs so much work. The health service, our high suicide rates. We have a plethora of things to be dealt with and this sort of thing is a horrible distraction.

"We've had a Sinn Fein MP here for years and years, but still we have such poor roads and there are so many other problems that have to be addressed. I just wish Barry McElduff would concentrate on the real stuff that matters to the people here who voted him in as their MP.

"I was up in Portrush recently and every time I go up there I can't get over how good the roads are. We need our MP here to make that sort of thing happen in West Tyrone and stop making jokes - especially crass and deeply offensive jokes - on social media.

"Barry McElduff needs to stop acting the comedian. Is he a comedian or a politician? He has to pick one way or the other. This sort of thing undermines politicians and the work we're trying to do, and it doesn't serve the people the way they deserve to be served."

Sinn Fein said: "Barry McElduff was elected by the people of West Tyrone.

"He has been suspended from the party for three months but, as Sinn Fein pointed out on Monday, he has a mandate from the people of West Tyrone and he will continue to represent them."

Ms McAnespy, who has recently become a member of Fianna Fail, was first elected to Omagh District Council in 2011, unseating a Sinn Fein colleague in the process. She left Sinn Fein in April 2016, blaming the organisation at a local level.

Meanwhile, Mr Elduff's daughter has defended her father.

Niamh McElduff, who was crowned Tyrone Rose for the annual Rose of Tralee festival, posted on Twitter: "It makes no logical political or personal sense why he would intentionally cause hurt; he didn't. My dad is a good person.

"My wholehearted sympathy is with the families involved. Let's move forward together."

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