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Northern Ireland Sinn Fein leader defends handling of the McElduff Twitter scandal

The West Tyrone MP resigned today, 10 days after his social media post appeared to make light of the Kingsmill massacre

SINN FEIN leader in Northern Ireland Michelle O’Neill defended her handling of the Barry McElduff affair today after the MP resigned, 10 days after causing outrage.

West Tyrone MP Mr McElduff quit over his Twitter post showing him walking around a supermarket with a loaf of Kingsmill bread on his head, asking staff where they kept that brand.

The day was the 42nd anniversary of the massacre of 10 Protestant workers near Kingsmill in Co Armagh county by group calling itself the South Armagh Republican Action Force.

“There was no intended reference to Kingsmill in my tweet,” Mr McElduff insisted, “but I do accept that there are many people who do not believe this to be the case.”

Alan Black, who was shot 18 times at Kingsmill but was the sole survivor, said: “I am glad he has done the right thing.”

He said he had got involved in the furore “because of the hurt and disrespect shown to my friends who died at Kingsmill, but this whole thing has taken a heavy toll.”

Ms O’Neill defended her earlier decision to merely suspend the MP for three months as “proportionate.”

“Barry did cause hurt, he didn’t intend to do so,” she claimed.

Mr McElduff had resigned “so he is not a barrier toward reconciliation,” she said. “I think that sends out a strong message that Sinn Fein listen to the needs of victims.”

Mr McElduff was one of Sinn Fein’s six Westminster MPs, who refuse to take up their seats as it would require them to swear allegiance to British monarch Elizabeth Windsor.

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