Barry McElduff paid homage to anti-Semite Sean South ... how can that be anyone's idea of respect?
SF MP led tributes to the notorious neo-fascist who was shot dead attacking an RUC station in 1957
On Tuesday, Sinn Fein launched a billboard at Free Derry Corner in Londonderry to mark the first anniversary of the resignation of Martin McGuinness as Deputy First Minister. Foyle MP Elisha McCallion spoke to the gathering and some other party members held posters left over from the elections last year. One of the leftover posters was about "respect" and there was also one about "equality."
Meanwhile, another Sinn Fein MP, Barry McElduff, was summoned to Sinn Fein offices in Belfast on Monday to meet Michelle O’Neill, Declan Kearney and others.
This was in the wake of the Kingsmill video he posted on the 42nd anniversary of the atrocity, when 10 Protestant workmen were picked out and murdered by the Provisional IRA in what was a sectarian massacre.
Such is the arrogance of Sinn Fein and the hardness of their hearts that they clearly saw no inconsistency between the “respect” poster and the lack of respect shown by their MP. These are people whose consciences have been seared.
Indeed, last year, on the morning of McGuinness’s resignation, Barry McElduff himself, then an MLA, tweeted: “We fight for equality. For respect. And for a united Ireland. That is why my comrade is resigning as Deputy First Minister this very day.” And a year later, he marks the anniversary of the Kingsmill massacre with a Kingsmill loaf. There’s not much respect for the victims in that.
Of course, Barry McElduff’s commitment to respect was already blown apart a few days before his notorious video.
On January 1, he was the speaker at the annual republican commemoration for two IRA men, Sean South and Fergal O’Hanlon. Sean South was an anti-Semitic neo-fascist, as well as being an IRA volunteer, and yet each year he is honoured by Sinn Fein. Where is the respect in glorifying Sean South?
It is clear that Sinn Fein have been struggling with the issue and were probably hoping that a meaningless sanction on the culprit and a short statement from Michelle O’Neill would suffice to kill off the story.
However, the sanction and the statement have merely compounded the hurt caused to the one survivor of the massacre and to the families of those who were slaughtered.
But what of the wider reaction to Barry McElduff? And not just here in Northern Ireland?
There has certainly been a very negative reaction in the Irish Republic and that will be of particular concern to Sinn Fein.
It is a reaction against the behaviour of McElduff and also against the way that Sinn Fein have handled it.
That may well have an impact on support for Sinn Fein in the Republic and that will alarm the Sinn Fein leadership, whose strategy is very much directed towards making electoral gains in the Republic.
There was also widespread criticism in the mainland media and the matter has already been raised on the floor of the House of Commons by DUP members. On top of that, a motion has been tabled by a number of MPs, including two Labour members, urging McElduff to resign.
McElduff is a British MP, albeit an abstentionist one, and the victims deserve that his appalling behaviour is roundly rejected and denounced by all political parties in the House of Commons.
Furthermore, a number of people have already written to the UK Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Kathryn Stone, who was formerly the Victims Commissioner in Northern Ireland, and is, therefore, well-placed to understand the hurt caused to the victims.
Surely his behaviour constitutes a breach of the code for members in that it brings the House into disrepute?
But, in due course, should this not be taken further? There is only one political party whose MPs glorify those who carried out acts of terrorism on citizens of the United Kingdom.
That party is Sinn Fein. Perhaps, then, it is time to ask the new Commissioner for Standards to consider the role of all the Sinn Fein MPs in IRA commemorations and the orations they deliver on such occasions.
When a Sinn Fein MP glorifies terrorists and murderers, does he, or she, not bring the House into disrepute?