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Orange Order condemns 'silence of churches' over Barry McElduff Kingsmill video

By Claire Williamson

A senior member of the Orange Order has condemned the silence of churches over Sinn Fein MP Barry McElduff's controversial video.

Controversy was sparked after the West Tyrone MP posted a video on social media with a loaf of Kingsmill bread on his head on the anniversary of the Kingsmill massacre.

He was summoned to a meeting of the senior Sinn Fein leadership on Monday where he was handed a three month suspension from the party with pay.

Following the meeting, Sinn Fein Stormont leader Michelle O'Neill apologised to the Kingsmill families, saying the video was not that expected of a Sinn Fein member but Mr McElduff's actions were not "malicious or intended to cause the hurt or pain which they did".

The MLA said Mr McElduff had done the right thing in apologising and accepting the period of suspension from the party. Explaining his suspension she said he was paid through the party's resources which would continue during his suspension.

Co Armagh Grand Chaplain Rev Dr Alan McCann said: "I am disappointed that the mainline churches have remained silent on this issue. Their silence has added to the sense of isolation, and having been forgotten, experienced by the Kingsmills families and many other victims of such terrorist atrocities.

"It appears that the church hierarchies can make joint statements on almost every other topic except those related to supporting the innocent victims of terrorism. Many families are thankful to their local parish clergy for their support at such difficult times, but are saddened and further dismayed by the silence of their church leaders."

He added: "Mr McElduff’s subsequent apology rings hollow and the suspension by Sinn Fein is a callous PR stunt. It is clear he knew exactly what he was doing; the mask slipped, and the real Sinn Fein came to the fore.

"He could not have but known the hurt, pain and anguish he would cause by his actions.

"The deliberate placing of the ‘Kingsmill’ loaf on his head in a so-called joke reveals and astonishing lack of humanity towards those who suffered at the hands of the IRA. It was, in my opinion, a calculated insult to all the families of the Kingsmills massacre and to the many countless other victims of IRA terrorism and genocide in County Armagh, and throughout this country.

"Mr McElduff, if he has an ounce of decency, should resign as MP as he cannot in any way represent all the people of his constituency. How could a victim of IRA terrorism go to him to seek help on any issue knowing his attitude towards those who were brutally murdered on a roadside? If Mr McElduff had carried out this action in a place of work, he would have been sacked immediately and the Equalities Commission would have been instantly involved."

Former UUP MLA Danny Kennedy who has campaigned for the Kingsmill families also called on the churches to act.

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