Monday 9 December 2019

SF disgrace over Kingsmill mockery

Sinn Fein MP Barry McElduff with a Kingsmill branded loaf on his head
Sinn Fein MP Barry McElduff with a Kingsmill branded loaf on his head


The appalling decision of a Sinn Fein MP in Northern Ireland to make a video which effectively mocked the families of 10 Protestant workmen murdered in cold blood by the Provisional IRA, and then to post that video on social media five minutes after midnight on the 42nd anniversary of what is known as the Kingsmill massacre, is deserving of the full condemnation it has received from all right-thinking decent people everywhere.

The actions of West Tyrone MP Barry McElduff - he posed with a loaf of Kingsmill bread on his head - was sickening in every sense, but primarily at a human level. He has insisted that he never made the connection between his behaviour and the heinous act at Kingsmill, but whatever his claim after the event, one thing is abundantly clear: Mr McElduff should be thoroughly ashamed of himself. His actions were a disgrace.

The response of Sinn Fein to the understandable outcry at Mr McElduff's actions is also inadequate in the extreme. The party which purports to be democratic and fit for government in the Republic effectively slapped Mr McElduff on the wrist: he is to be suspended from political activities for a period of three months, which is hardly an inconvenience for a politician who refuses to take his seat in Westminster in accordance with Sinn Fein's dated abstentionist policy which means that its MPs refuse to take their seats in the UK parliament.

The Sinn Fein TD in Dublin Central, Mary Lou McDonald is the heir apparent to Gerry Adams, who has been Sinn Fein President since 1983. Ms McDonald, who is set to take over in a matter of weeks, is said to represent the next generation. She has described the punishment meted out to Mr McElduff as "appropriate and proportionate" when it is anything but. Rather, the wrist-slap to Mr McElduff, if anything, doubles down on the mockery he delivered so insensitively and with such callous disregard to the families of the men murdered in Kingsmill. This latest controversy raises all manner of questions, however, not the least of which is who took the decision to merely suspend Mr McElduff for three months and what part, if any, did Ms McDonald take in that decision? If she is to represent the new broom with which to sweep out the Provisional IRA's bloody past, then Ms McDonald has got off to a very poor start indeed. This grotesque event underlines the question often asked by this newspaper and others: who really runs Sinn Fein, if the punishment of Mr McElduff can be regarded as appropriate and proportionate?

The controversy has also given rise to repeated calls for a form of 'truth and reconciliation' commission to allow victims in Northern Ireland and their families establish in detail what happened to them and their loved ones and allow a form of closure to begin to take place.

While some believe there is merit to such a suggestion, although it should not be regarded as a panacea, the actions of Mr McElduff and the subsequent response of Sinn Fein would place glaring question marks over the bona fides of that party before such a commission. These events force us to state again that Sinn Fein is not fit for Government in this country and that evident reality does not look like it will change under what increasingly looks set to be the titular leadership of Mary Lou McDonald.

Sunday Independent

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