Belfast Telegraph

Editor's viewpoint: Is McElduff exit finally a sign politicians will accept all injustices?

Editor's Viewpoint

Barry McElduff has done the right thing by resigning from his position as MP for West Tyrone over his controversial Kingsmill Twitter video. He took a week too long to make that decision, but it is better late than never.

What the continuing controversy did was prolong the hurt for the families of the 10 Protestant men who were murdered in cold blood by republican gunmen 42 years ago.

The relatives, and the lone survivor of the barbarous attack, were forced to relive the horror of that atrocity thanks to his moronic tweet.

He may continue to insist that he did not mean to cause any hurt - a statement that the relatives continue to find impossible to believe - but, as he accepts, undeniable and indefensible hurt was caused and the only decent thing he could do was stand down.

It was a decision which became inevitable after Alan Black, the survivor of the shooting, in a searing interview to RTE, gave graphic details of the executions of his fellow workmen and his own miraculous survival.

For many people in the Republic his description of that evening four decades ago was in a way a lightbulb moment - the first time they could fully comprehend the barbarity that occurred on that lonely roadside.

Sinn Fein, which is about to see Dublin-based Mary Lou McDonald take over presidency of the party from Gerry Adams, must have realised the electoral damage, particularly in the Republic, that would flow from this continued controversy. And the question that may never be answered is: did Mr McElduff jump voluntarily or was he encouraged to vacate the post?

What the fall-out from his video proved is that the plight of the bereaved is something that continues to resonate powerfully down the decades. They may never get justice; they may never get answers to all their questions, but they demand - and must obtain - respect for their suffering, their loss and the lack of positive recognition over the years.

Stephen Travers, a survivor of the equally horrific murders of members of the Miami Showband by loyalist terrorists, made this point very powerfully in a tweet yesterday.

Images of the Kingsmill and Miami vans were accompanied by the powerful words: Although riddled with bullets, the Kingsmill minibus together with The Miami Showband minibus, bombed and blown to pieces, will continue forever, on their shared journey into history, to carry their indisputable testimony of the futility of violence.

It is no mute testimony, for Mr Travers and Mr Black have shown incredible restraint in their many interviews about the horrors they witnessed.

But their calm, yet emotive and piercing testimonies, have forced all of us to recognise the injustice that was done to them and their friends and which they still endure.

That has also dawned on the politicians. John O'Dowd of Sinn Fein, who had a number of relatives killed by loyalists the day before Kingsmill, condemned the latter atrocity in the strongest terms, describing it as shameful and how it made him feel ashamed.

And DUP leader Arlene Foster used a powerful - and conciliatory - metaphor at a Brexit conference in Kilkenny, describing both parts of the island as like semi-detached homes, similar on the outside, different inside, yet bound by common walls.

Given the recent toxic tone of politics here and across the border, any comments smacking of even a veneer of statesmanship are to be welcomed, but will that survive the West Tyrone by-election?

Belfast Telegraph

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