Joke by a Tyrone politician Barry McElduff about murder of 10 people during the Troubles has gone global after the New York Times picked up the story.
Barry McElduff has served as the abstentionist Member of Parliament for West Tyrone since June last year and is known for posting “Dad humor” type videos on social media. However, his most recent effort backfired spectacularly after it upset the victims of an IRA massacre and sparked calls for his resignation.
Sauntering down the aisle of a supermarket with a loaf of Kingsmill bread on his head, McElduff asked, “Where does McCullogh's keep the bread?”
Sinn Féin MP Barry McElduff chose to post a light-hearted video by putting something on his head:— Sam McBride (@SJAMcBride) January 6, 2018
Of the thousands of items in a shop, he chose bread;
Of all bread brands, he chose Kingsmills;
Of all days to do it, it was the anniversary of the Kingsmills Massacre.
What odds? pic.twitter.com/kuxf0pKPTk
Posted on the 42nd anniversary of the notorious Kingsmill massacre when gunmen lined up 12 colleagues on their home from work, asked them their religion and shot 11 of them. One survived despite being shot 18 times and a twelfth was told to run away after he told them he was a Catholic. The Provisional IRA denied responsibility for the killings but years later the Historical Enquiries Team fingered the organization as culpable for the “purely sectarian” slaughter.
The outcry has been such that the New York Times has run the story, as well as the UK press which usually focuses on events in the British mainland.
McElduff has since deleted the video and apologized “unreservedly” to the victims’ families.
“When I posted the video I had not realized or imagined for a second that there was any possible link between the brand name of the bread and the Kingsmill anniversary,” he said in a statement.
“It was never my intention to hurt or cause offense to anyone and in particular to victims of the conflict who have suffered so grievously.”
I have known Barry McElduff for many years and consider him a true and valued friend. It is my belief that Barry would never intentionally insult or hurt any victim of this or any other conflict. It is my view that his swift and fulsome apology is both appropriate and sincere.— Colm Gildernew (@GildernewColm) January 7, 2018
His actions have earned him a three-month suspension from Sinn Féin and party leader Michelle O’Neill said, "I made it clear to Barry that his tweet was ill-judged, indefensible and caused hurt and pain to the victims of Kingsmill. That it falls far short of the standard expected of Sinn Féin representatives and our members.”
She added, “To the Kingsmill families I recognize the hurt this has caused and I wholeheartedly apologize for any distress."
Mindful of unintended hurt caused to victims' families I would be very willing to meet with Kingsmill Massacre families if they were willing— Barry McElduff MP (@BarryMcElduff) January 6, 2018
However, the critics of the party said the suspension was too small a punishment.
Alan Black, the only survivor of the massacre, rejected the apology and called on McElduff to resign his seat.
"I watched all my friends being murdered, my 19-year-old apprentice crying for his mother, and then to watch on Friday a man standing and mocking their deaths if he was a man of principle he would walk," he told the Belfast Telegraph.
Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster said, "I was actually with the victims when the news of this so-called sanction came through. They feel it adds insult to injury. Three months suspension on an MP who doesn't go to Westminster is entirely meaningless."
The Police Service of Northern Ireland acknowledged they had received complaints about the video and superintendent Emma Bond said, “Enquiries are ongoing.”