“HE F****D UP BIG TIME – BUT…” – By Brian Rowan

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That ‘but’ in that opening thought above – from a republican on Monday – was the indicator turning the Barry McElduff Kingsmill video row away from the sanction of sacking or resignation and towards suspension.

On Monday morning Sinn Fein chair Declan Kearney described McElduff’s actions as both inexcusable and indefensible. It sounded like the end of his political career but, at lunchtime, Pearse Doherty told RTE he didn’t think the West Tyrone MP should resign; that it was a stupid thing that he had done and he should have known better.

Soon afterwards, came the confirmation that he was being suspended from all party activity for three months, but that McElduff would continue to receive his salary.

The DUP MP Sammy Wilson called it a “pitiful sanction”.

To borrow a phrase, this row hasn’t gone away.

Just read the headlines shouting out from the front pages of Tuesday’s papers.

The anger at McElduff’s video, in which he appeared with a Kingsmill loaf on his head, is not confined to victims and unionists.

It extends into the nationalist and republican communities.

He insists that he had not realised or imagined for a second any possible link between the product name and the Kingsmill massacre – the slaughter of Protestant workmen ordered out of a van, shot and left dying on the road.

Kingmill is one of those one-word descriptions that points to one of the horrors of the conflict years.



There are many who have been offended and hurt by the crassness of that video; who believe that McElduff got off lightly – too lightly.

In this place, of course, there are those who throw bricks – never mind stones – in the political glasshouse, but this is not a time for ‘whataboutery’.

Our politics today is even more fractured than it was on this date last year when the late Martin McGuinness resigned as deputy first minister – the atmosphere even more toxic.

There will be no quick-fix at Stormont.

Read Declan Kearney’s tough and uncompromising blog on this website – posted last night to mark the anniversary of the McGuinness resignation; twelve months without functioning government.

There is no shift in the Sinn Fein position on Irish language, marriage equality, legacy and other matters, and Kearney says there won’t be; but, in the fallout of recent days, we are hearing from the DUP and others a one word response to that rights and respect agenda – KINGSMILL.

A new Secretary of State – Karen Bradley – has arrived. Will that change things?

NO is the answer to that question.

Sinn Fein has set the bar at a height the DUP won’t jump.

A year on, Stormont remains stuck – lost in this political crisis and with no obvious way out; the backdrop to today, the continuing fallout from that Barry MeElduff video row.

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I am a regular contributor to discussion programmes on TV and radio both at home and abroad. An experienced political editor and author specialising in Politics, Security and 20th Century Art.


  1. Barry McElduff was crass, no argument, but there are many contenders for the title of Crassus Maximus in this blighted sectarian backwater.
    Barney is right this is not a time for party political point scoring rather it should be an opportunity for sober reflection all round. DO we really want to continue with this excuse for politics.
    What is needed is a step-change and the DUP seem not to be capable of such. The temporary Tory prop for them ensures they won’t be either in the foreseeable future.
    St Andrews default poisition seems the only option: “as set out in the agreement between the Governments
    published in May 2003 and in the Belfast Agreement. The Prime Minister and the Taoiseach are determined that default by any one of the parties following restoration of the Executive should not be allowed to delay or hinder political progress in Northern Ireland. The Governments have made clear that in the event of failure to reach agreement we will proceed on the basis of the new British Irish partnership arrangements to implement the Belfast Agreement.”
    With the Tories in hock to Nigel and the boys at Westminster it seems to be a case of over to you Leo and Simon.

    • “The Governments have made clear that in the event of failure to reach agreement we will proceed on the basis of the new British Irish partnership arrangements to implement the Belfast Agreement.”

      That was 10 years ago. Things have changed.

    • There is no legal basis for Joint Authority, one of the faux pas of SAA negotiations.

      It’s in the Act, but it’s not law.

      I fear for the immediate future as I can see Sinn Fein being deliberately sidelined, resulting in 380k voters being unrepresented.

      They must learn to future-proof any more agreements,

  2. We are only seeing the visible “punishment” but in effect Barry’s political career is over and Máirtín Ó Muilleoir has been the victim of collateral damage which it will be hard to recover from. Expect both to be disappeared.
    The alternative is every time they make any sort speech or indeed do anything it will be brought up and SF can’t have that happening. They want this forgotten about as soon as possible.

    • The very fact that Barry McElduff is lying through his teeth by saying he had not imagined any link to the Kingsmill loaf and his actions on the anniversary of the massacre just reinforces the fact that he is not to be trusted. FULL STOP !!!!!!!!

  3. Brendan Flynn on

    Up to the Moment the ink had dried on the Good Friday Agreement every missile under the sun was used to hurt maim ans kill on both sides of the conflict in the North of Ireland.
    Since the drying of the ink, words have been the ammo of many to cause hurt or lay blame.
    Let us remember nothing on earth will change events of 50, 20 2 years ago. Nothing. Nothing . Nothing.
    However, from this moment in time, every last one of us can bring about a better island by being cautious with our words and just as important our actions. Everyone has it in him or her to be kind and courteous to others.. Everyone.
    Let All of us work to build friendships and bridges for the future. The rewards are too great to do otherwise.

  4. Why should Mc Elduff’s career be over when people like Gregory Campbell regulary and intentionally ( something I believe McElduff didn’t do) gleefully mocks Nationalist/Republicans, be that the language or the Republican dead and nobody bats an eyelid?
    It seems SF are held to a higher standard in this cess pit.

  5. On 12th November Barry McElduff stood at the cordon of a bombscare in Omagh aimed at disrupting Remembrance Sunday. He calls for all sides and communities to be able to remember their dead with dignity. That’s less than three months ago. Not the actions of a man who would deliberately taunt the innocent victims and families of Kingsmill. But the outrage is so great now, the perception of his deliberate guilt so firmly, but wrongly, established in the court of public opinion that the truth is probably buried forever.

  6. Jake Mac Siacais on

    Eamonn agallamh iontach le marie bhí fear s’aici mar pháirtnéir squash s’agam beirt duine fiúntacha ar fad

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