Arlene Foster says Barry McElduff was not fit for public office

Simon Coveney hopes the resignation will provide ‘some positivity politically in Northern Ireland’

 Democratic Unionist leader Arlene Foster at the  Killarney Economic Conference in Co Kerry at the weekend. Photograph:  Valerie O Sullivan/PA

Democratic Unionist leader Arlene Foster at the Killarney Economic Conference in Co Kerry at the weekend. Photograph: Valerie O Sullivan/PA

 

DUP leader Arlene Foster has welcomed the resignation of Barry McElduff and said now is the time for Sinn Féin to learn lessons and deal with members who “glorify the murderous deeds” of the past.

Ms Foster said it was right Sinn Féin’s West Tyrone MP was resigning from the role over his controversial online clip posted on the anniversary of the January 5th 1976 Kingsmill massacre, where 10 Protestant men were murdered in a sectarian attack.

DUP leader Arlene Foster MLA said: “It is right that Barry McElduff has resigned.

“He was not fit for public office and should have resigned in the immediate aftermath of posting the disgraceful video mocking and insulting the horrific terrorist events at Kingsmill.

“Over the course of the last ten days Sinn Féin has failed to deal with the McElduff situation.

“By merely suspending him and continuing to pay him they compounded his disgraceful actions and demonstrated a lack of respect and compassion for the victims of Kingmill and indeed victims more widely. Sinn Féin got this badly wrong.

“Now is the time for Sinn Féin to learn the lessons from these dark events and to deal with the fact that it, and many of its individual members, continue to publicly glorify the murderous deeds of the past. This needs to end if we are to build a future based on integrity and respect. Sinn Féin has much work to do to demonstrate they have truly learned from these events.”

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney also welcomed Mr McElduff’s apology and resignatio. “What happened has caused a lot of hurt to families linked to the Kingsmill massacre. I have met them - they are very sincere and dignified people who are searching for the truth.”

“I hope the resignation and the repeated apology today will provide an opening of a space now that people will take to look towards reconciliation and towards providing some positivity politically in Northern Ireland that can allow us to take on some of the decisions in the coming weeks.”

“I hope political leaders in Northern Ireland will take on (decisions) to re-establish the Assembly, to look towards managing legacy issues in a responsible way which is what everyone wants to do - most importantly, to reach out to families of victims.”

“This resignation is a step in that direction and I think we should welcome it.”

Ulster Unionist Party Leader Robin Swann MLA welcomed the “long overdue” resignation.

“We welcome the fact that Barry McElduff has resigned although it should have happened last week. This is a day when a Sinn Féin Member of Parliament has done the right thing. His resignation was long overdue. His position was absolutely untenable given the hurt and pain inflicted on the Kingsmill victims` families and the sole survivor Alan Black. This has been a horrendous experience for them.

“It is right that the people of West Tyrone are now given the opportunity to elect a Member of Parliament who will take their seat in the House of Commons and be a voice for everyone.

“Given the hurt that has been caused to victims by Mr McElduff’s actions I think it is important that any by-election provides them with a voice. I am therefore calling for a non-partisan candidate who will be a voice for victims to contest this seat against Sinn Féin.

“The condemnation of Barry McElduff`s deeply offensive actions has come from across the community. If a candidate emerges that allows cross-community support to coalesce around, it would send a strong message that this type of behaviour will not be tolerated.”

TUV leader Jim Allister said the resignation is welcome “but let us be in no doubt as to what brought it about”.

“The harrowing but dignified comments of victims, especially those of the sole survivor of the Massacre, Alan Black, have forced this,” he said.

“The potential for electoral damage to Sinn Féin, particularly south of the border, was clear.

“Sinn Féin thought that this would blow over but victims ensured that was impossible. Now, in an attempt at damage limitation McElduff has been pushed.

“Though McElduff has belatedly done the right thing, what about Máirtín Ó Muilleoir who thought it appropriate to approvingly retweet the video? If it is right for McElduff to resign - and it is - then, let sincerity, not expediency, be demonstrated by Ó Muilleoir following suit.

“There is no one better at the phoney Sinn Féin speak of respect and equality than Ó Muilleoir . Yet since this controversy arose he has been conspicuous by his absence from the airwaves. He needs to follow the example of McElduff and exit the stage. Should he fail to do so no Unionist should ever again let him away with his sanctimonious lectures.

“It is also time Sinn Féin and indeed wider Nationalism in the form of the SDLP looked at how they can address the hurt felt by the Kingsmill families. A very tangible way to do so is to revisit the decision to name a play park in Newry after the terrorist arrested with a gun used in the Kingsmill Massacre.”

SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood said Mr McElduff has done the right thing by resigning as his “actions caused huge offence and immense hurt”.

“Over the weekend we heard from Alan Black about his pain and that of the families of the victims of Kingsmill. It is deeply regrettable that it has taken over a week for Mr McElduff to do the right thing.

“Many will welcome Mr McElduff’s resignation but will also question the failure of the Sinn Féin leadership to deal decisively with this issue.

“As I said before, the provisional republican movement has never expressed full remorse for the specific murders it was involved in, including those at Kingsmill. That is a reality the Sinn Féin leadership fail to face up to.

“If we are to deliver a truly reconciled society, the Sinn Féin leadership needs to accept that they have never gained trust amongst the unionist community.

“The Sinn Féin leadership cannot escape the fact that their failures have undermined the task of reconciliation that can only be put right by finally apologising for the Kingsmill Massacre. While Barry McElduff has finally done the right thing, it is now Michelle O’Neill’s turn.”

Green Party leader Steven Agnew also said Mr McElduff has now done the right thing in resigning and “I hope this brings an end to this saga”.

“Politicians need to mirror the dignity shown by Kingsmill survivor Alan Black over the weekend.

“All this furore has achieved is to cause further upset to the families and I hope this resignation will now draw a line under it.”