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Former MP evades prosecution over controversial Kingsmill tweet

Former MP evades prosecution over controversial Kingsmill tweet
Connie Duffy

Reporter:

Connie Duffy

Email:

connie.duffy@tyronecon.co.uk

The former West Tyrone Sinn Féin MP, Barry McElduff, who was forced to resign his seat earlier this year will not face prosecution over a controversial video he posted of himself balancing a loaf of Kingsmill bread on his head.

Shortly after midnight on January 5, Mr McElduff tweeted the eight second video filmed in an Omagh shop with the loaf on his head, asking where the shop kept its bread.
As it coincided with the 42nd anniversary of the Kingsmill massacre - where republicans murdered ten Protestant civilians - his stunt immediately attracted widespread condemnation.

The 51-year-old Carrickmore man was the subject of much criticism for his actions from all sections of society. Unionists accused him of mocking the massacre.

Mr McElduff deleted the video and apologised, saying he was not alluding to the massacre and offering to meet the victims' families. This was turned down.

On January 8, Sinn Féin apologised for Mr McElduff's actions, condemned the video, and suspended him - on full pay - from Sinn Féin for three months.

Mr McElduff announced on January 15 that he was resigning his seat. This ended a political career of more than 20 years. He repeated he never intended to cause offence but accepted the video had caused "deep and unnecessary" hurt to the families of the Kingsmills victims. He claimed at the time he was not aware the post coincided with the Kingsmill anniversary.

In a follow up investigation Mr McElduff was questioned by police about the improper use of a public electronic communication network and so too was his party colleague, former finance minister, Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, who retweeted the video.

Mr Ó Muilleoir, later apologised and told BBC News NI he "would not have tweeted" it if he didn't think it was "wholly innocent".

After examining the police file, the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) decided no further action would be taken.

Public Prosecution Service (PPS) assistant director, Martin Hardy, said there was insufficient evidence to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction.

"The PPS acknowledges the content of the video posted on the anniversary of the Kingsmill murders caused a great deal of hurt to those directly affected by the atrocity and many others in the wider community," said Mr Hardy.

"We have written to the next of kin of the Kingsmill victims and the attack's survivor to explain in detail the rationale for the decision.

"Whilst we recognise the outcome is disappointing to those offended by the content and timing of the video, we can offer assurance that these decisions were reached only after the most careful examination of all evidence and information available."

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