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Sunday 21 January 2018

Pressure mounts on McDonald to acknowledge Provisional IRA carried out Kingsmill massacre

Mary Lou McDonald Photo: Tom Burke
Mary Lou McDonald Photo: Tom Burke
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Pressure is mounting on Sinn Féin leader-in-waiting Mary Lou McDonald to acknowledge that the Provisional IRA was responsible for the Kingsmill massacre.

Fianna Fáil foreign affairs spokesman Darragh O'Brien has said Ms McDonald "absolutely" needs to acknowledge the paramilitary group carried out the sectarian atrocity.

It comes as the Sinn Féin sparked outrage and widespread criticism over its handling of an offensive tweet by its MP Barry McElduff.

Mr McElduff posted a social media video of himself with a loaf of Kingsmill bread on his head on the anniversary of the murder of ten Protestants in 1976.

Sinn Fein: Barry McElduff. Photo: PA
Sinn Fein: Barry McElduff. Photo: PA

Speaking on Tuesday Ms McDonald has said the tweet was "very crass" and "unforgivable" but defended the punishment imposed on Mr McElduff.

She said the three-month suspension with pay handed down by the party is “appropriate and proportionate”.

Mr O'Brien said what struck him from McDonald's remarks was that "nothing has changed".

He said: "This is supposed to be a new generation of Sinn Féin, supposed to be a new leader...But it’s still the same mantra and the same words" as used during outgoing leader Gerry Adams' tenure.

Colin Worton, brother of victim Kenneth has called on Ms McDonald to publicly say whether she believes the Kingsmill massacre was carried out by the Provisional IRA as has Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.

Mr O'Brien also hit out at the sanction Sinn Féin imposed on Mr McElduff dismissing it as a "slap on the wrist".

Mr McElduff has apologised for the tweet. He has also claimed he meant no offence and hadn't realised it was the anniversary of the massacre.

However, Mr O'Brien argued that this isn't credible saying that Mr McElduff went into a shop and was filmed with a loaf of bread on his head.

"So what does he pick? He picks one of seven different types of loaves of bread there. It happens to be the Kingsmill loaf on the anniversary of it," Mr O'Brien added.

He claimed Sinn Féin's response to the incident was "a slap in the face to the victims and their families" and "should really show people that there’s no change in Sinn Féin".

His fellow Fianna Fáil TD Willie O'Dea also criticised the three month suspension from party activity handed down on Mr McElduff arguing it's a "non-sanction" and that "Effectively he’ll be abstaining from abstaining for the next three months".

That’s a reference to Sinn Féin's policy of not taking their seats at Westminster.

Mr O'Dea said he didn't think it would be too severe for Mr McElduff to resign his seat given the hurt caused to the Kingsmill families.

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