Unionists condemn Sinn Fein selection of former MP in Kingsmill row

Unionist parties in Northern Ireland have expressed outrage at the selection by Sinn Fein as a candidate of a former MP who was accused of mocking Troubles victims.

Barry McElduff resigned his Westminster seat in January after it was claimed a video he posted on Twitter derided a 1976 atrocity in which 10 men were killed at Kingsmill.

The former West Tyrone representative apologised for causing upset but insisted the video – in which he posed with a loaf of Kingsmill bread on his head – was not directed at the victims of the atrocity.

Barry McElduff Twitter post
The video posted by Barry McElduff (Barry McElduff/Twitter/PA)

He claimed he had not made the association with the bread, and had not known it was the anniversary of the shooting when he posted it.

Republicans were blamed for the killing of the 10 Protestant men during the incident in Co Armagh, one of the most shocking of Northern Ireland’s Troubles.

KIngsmill massacre
The bullet-riddled minibus after the Kingsmill massacre (PA)

The posting of the video was investigated by the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

However last month the Public Prosecution Service said it would not prosecute Mr McElduff over the video.

On Thursday it emerged Mr McElduff had been selected by Sinn Fein as a candidate for next year’s council elections.

Proud to be selected alongside Marty and Anne Marie tonight to go forward in Omagh Town for Sinn Féin in Council Elections 2019. pic.twitter.com/3CACFG0hTT

— Barry McElduff (@BarryMcElduff) December 6, 2018

Democratic Unionist MLA Thomas Buchanan accused Sinn Fein of a “lack of respect” towards victims.

“The decision of SF to ask Barry McElduff to stand for election does send a message to innocent victims about how little respect SF has for them,” he said.

“Sinn Fein representatives like to talk about respect but they have failed consistently to show any respect for innocent victims of PIRA terrorism.”

Ulster Unionist councillor Chris Smyth said he was appalled by the decision to select Mr McElduff.

“Obviously it is a matter for Sinn Fein who they select as a candidate, but given the enormous hurt caused to victims of terrorism – especially those bereaved in the Kingsmill massacre – by Mr McElduff’s previous antics, Sinn Fein know full well the impact that selecting him will have,” he said.

“Sinn Fein have a large number of potential candidates they could have chosen, so to choose Mr McElduff is a very deliberate act.”