NEWS
08/01/2018 16:27 GMT

MP Suspended By Sinn Fein Admits ‘Hurt And Pain’ Caused To Kingsmill Families

A Sinn Fein MP who posted a social media video of himself with a loaf of Kingsmill bread on his head on the anniversary of the Kingsmill massacre has said he accepts his party’s decision to suspend him for three months.

West Tyrone MP Barry McElduff reiterated what he described as a “deep and sincere” apology to relatives of the Kingsmill victims, insisting he did not mean to cause any hurt.

The suspension was announced after Mr McElduff attended a crunch meeting with the party leadership at Sinn Fein’s offices in west Belfast.

Photo from the Twitter feed of Sinn Fein MP Barry McElduff showing him with a Kingsmill-branded loaf on his head on the anniversary of the Kingsmill massacre (Twitter/PA)

“Although I genuinely meant no offence, I accept that my actions were ill-judged and, while unintended, caused deep and unnecessary hurt and pain to the Kingsmill families,” he said.

The well-known Kingsmill brand of bread shares a name with the south Armagh village that witnessed one of the most notorious incidents of the Troubles in 1976, when gunmen stopped a van carrying textile workers on their way home, identified the Protestant occupants, lined them up at the side of the road and shot them.

Mr McElduff said in a statement: “I apologise unreservedly for this.

“In recognising the serious consequences of my actions, I fully accept the party’s decision to suspend me from all party activity for a period of three months.”

Outside Sinn Fein’s offices on the Falls Road, Mr McElduff said he had “no idea” he had posted the video on the anniversary of the massacre.

“What I want to say as I am making my way home is that I genuinely, genuinely want to reiterate what is in the statement, which is my deep and sincere apology,” he said.

The MP said he had not intended to cause hurt or pain.

“I have no doubt that hurt and pain has been caused but it was genuinely unintended on my part,” he said.

Barry McElduff arrives at Sinn Fein’s headquarters in Belfast (Niall Carson/PA)

In the short video, Mr McElduff, who is known for his light-hearted social media contributions, is filmed walking around a shop with a Kingsmill loaf on his head, asking where the store kept the bread.

It was posted around the 42nd anniversary of the Kingsmill outrage on Friday.

He has faced multiple calls to resign in the wake of the controversy.

Earlier, party chairman Declan Kearney said the MP had fallen well short of the standards Sinn Fein expects of its members.

“What has happened is absolutely inexcusable and indefensible and the party is taking this matter very seriously indeed,” he said.

He added that Sinn Fein wished to express “deep and sincere regret”.

“What happened is absolutely irresponsible,” he said.

Sinn Fein’s former Stormont finance minister, Mairtin O Muilleoir, also apologised for retweeting the video.

Mr Kearney said Mr O Muilleoir had offered the party an explanation for the retweet.