Belfast Telegraph

Barry McElduff Kingsmill video tweet: Pathetic. Infantile. Anywhere else in world he would be gone already

By Lindy McDowell

Not for a second, says Barry McElduff, Member of Parliament for West Tyrone, did he realise any possible link between the product brand name of the loaf he was videoed balancing on his head - and the Kingsmill massacre.

Of course not.

Kingsmill and Kingsmill. No obvious connection there at all.

Especially on the anniversary of what was one of the most notorious terrorist atrocities of the Troubles - who would ever expect any such connection to flit across the mind of a public representative?

A public representative from the political party so closely aligned with the Provisional IRA who carried out that barbarous attack? No, we are invited to believe that all this was entirely total coincidence and that what Mr McElduff, a grown man of 51 years of age, was attempting was, well, it's hard to say, really.

Humour?

Like the loaf after it had been on your head, Barry, not too many of us are buying that one.

In his disclaimer/apology McElduff would have us believe it was never his intention to offend people who have suffered grievously. But it is all too easy to appreciate the very real and terrible hurt that has been caused to the families of the Kingsmill victims by what comes across as an acid, sniggering dig at the memory of those 10 innocent working men who died that awful January night in 1976.

Equality. Respect...

Words that Sinn Fein - and McElduff himself - bandy about gratuitously; somehow they don't seem to apply here.

"You have no heart," is how one Twitter critic puts it succinctly. No heart. And, apparently, not a whole lot of brains either.

For to reiterate a point, Barry McElduff is a public representative. An MP. A man who represents the entire constituency of West Tyrone - not just those who voted for him, but those tens of thousands of other nationalists and unionists too.

And his constituents, all his constituents, surely deserve better than a man who either stoops so low as to sneer at the savage murder of 10 of his fellow human beings, or who is, by his alternative "explanation", so oblivious to local events that he chose to make and post this video at any time of the year, never mind, by 365-to-one 'coincidence', exactly on the anniversary of the atrocity.

Can you imagine an English MP posting such a video on the anniversary of, say, Hillsborough, with a similarly branded product on his head?

And even laying aside all that - the perceived stomach-turning nastiness, the vile insensitivity - what does this not say about McElduff's (and indeed Sinn Fein's) concern for all the wider electorate here?

At a time when the health service, education and so many other sectors face crisis with Stormont in shutdown, this is the gravity of your response to what's called the bread and butter issues, Barry?

Strutting around social media with a loaf - brand name well-displayed - on your head. It's pathetic. It's infantile. And in any other political arena, anywhere else in the civilised world, Barry McElduff would now be political toast.

He would either have resigned himself, or he would have been swiftly stood down by the political party of which he is a member.

How Sinn Fein handles this most shameful incident in the coming days will tell us much. Not just about how sincerely the party recognises the very great offence and hurt this man has caused.

But how genuine the Sinn Fein hierarchy truly are when they preach about equality. And respect.

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