Monday 16 July 2018

SF may lose expenses over Kingsmill 'slur'

DUP wants to stop MPs claiming money when not turning up

Video grab taken from the Twitter feed of Sinn Féin MP Barry McElduff. Photo: Barry McElduff/Twitter/PA
Video grab taken from the Twitter feed of Sinn Féin MP Barry McElduff. Photo: Barry McElduff/Twitter/PA
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Sinn Féin's expenses from the Westminster parliament are coming under renewed scrutiny in the wake of absentee MP Barry McElduff's 'joke' about Kingsmill.

The DUP, which is propping up Theresa May's minority government, has held fresh talks with the Conservative Party about the anomaly that allows Sinn Féin to claim expenses despite not taking up seats in the UK parliament.

Sinn Féin's decision to only suspend Mr McElduff from party activity for three months with pay has sparked widespread outrage.

He posted a video online with a loaf of Kingsmill bread on his head on the 42nd anniversary of the sectarian atrocity which saw 10 Protestants gunned down.

On January 5, 1976, the victims were on a minibus that was stopped near the village of Kingsmill, in rural south Armagh.

They were lined up and the only Catholic among them was ordered to flee, before 10 were shot dead. No one has ever been held accountable for the murders.

DUP MP Jim Shannon has now revealed that "renewed discussions with the Tories" have taken place over the monies drawn down by Sinn Féin despite its refusal to take its seats in Westminster.

Records indicate that in Mr McElduff's constituency of West Tyrone alone, Sinn Féin has claimed almost £900,000 (€1m) in expenses since 2010-11.

Mr Shannon told the 'Belfast News Letter': "The actions of Mr McElduff have infuriated parliamentarians across the spectrum and there is a real mood of anger."

TUV leader Jim Allister agreed, saying: "Sinn Féin has thumbed their nose at the victims of Kingsmill because it thinks it is untouchable. It's time it was made to pay. And there is a way that unionists can deliver just that."

Meanwhile, the sole survivor of the gun attack, Alan Black, has said the events of the past few days have made the video posted by Mr McElduff "10 times worse".

"What I seen that night on that road, then to see a man mocking, actually nearly celebrating their death, that was awful hard to take," he told Pat Kenny, on Newstalk radio.

"It's not for me to tell Sinn Féin what to do. I talk to people when I walk up the street, working fellas, and they say I wish somebody would give me three months holiday with pay. That is the attitude people around here have.

"I keep well away from politics, I am not political in any way. I just have no faith in the politics in this country.

"The thing I keep having to remind myself about is these bigots, they are only a very tiny minority in this country, and I just stay clear of all bigots, and politics."

The historical enquiries team has said that based on the evidence linked to the weapons found, the IRA perpetrated the outrage.

Mr Black said he still can't understand how and why no one was questioned on the atrocity.

"The thing that baffles me, and all this is coming out in the inquest, Gerry McKeown, who was first on the scene with his wife, was never spoken to by the police.

"An off duty policeman that came along, he was never spoken to by the police, never gave a statement. A local farmer who came up with blankets was never spoken to either," he said.

Mr Black said "a dirty game" was played in relation to the investigation "by dirty people".

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Also in this section