Sinn Fein’s Barry McElduff has resigned as West Tyrone MP following an outcry over an intended humourous video in which he used a loaf of bread as a prop.
The bread was of the ‘Kingsmill’ brand, and the video was coincidentally posted onto the internet on the anniversary of a rare sectarian attack against Protestants in the village of the same name.
Mr McElduff said his resignation as West Tyrone MP was because he did not wish to be “a barrier to reconciliation and healing”.
He said: “It is with great sadness that, after more than 30 years as an active Sinn Fein member and public representative I am tendering my resignation as MP for West Tyrone.
“The reason I am doing so is because of the consequences of the Twitter video which has caused such controversy over the last week.
“But the deep and unnecessary hurt this video caused the families of the victims of Kingsmill is my greatest regret.
“I again offer my profound apology to those families and to the wider victims community.
“Had I been conscious of the connection to the terrible atrocity at Kingsmill I would certainly not have posted that tweet. I genuinely did not make that connection, not for a second did I make that connection in my mind.
“Kingsmill was wrong, unjustifiable and sectarian. It should never have happened.
“There was no intended reference to Kingsmill in my tweet. But I do accept that there are many people who do not believe this to be the case.
“I accept also that this view of what happened is deeply damaging to the reconciliation process that is so important to consolidating the peace process and to healing the pain and hurt of the past.
“I cannot undo the pain caused but I know that my continuing role as MP for West Tyrone will compound that sense of hurt and impede any reconciliation process.
“I wish to wholeheartedly thank my family and friends for their steadfast personal support during this difficult time, and the people of West Tyrone whom I have had the privilege to serve as their public representative for over 20 years. I have a deep gra for my native county and its people.
“I am an Irish republican and believe whole heartedly in the reunification of our country and an agreed Ireland in which we heal the wounds of the past together.
“Reconciliation is essential, but that message is not being heard at this time.
“I do not wish to be a barrier to reconciliation and healing and in that spirit I again offer my sincere apologies to the survivors and families of those murdered at Kingsmill.”
Sinn Fein northern leader Michelle O’Neill said she had learned of Mr McElduff’s decision to step down on Sunday.
“Barry has served Sinn Fein and been a formidable champion for the people of West Tyrone at local government, Assembly and Westminster level over the past 20 years and has done so with great commitment, energy and determination,” she said.
“For this I want to personally thank Barry and his family, Paula, Niamh, Blannid and Patrick.”
A by-election will now take place to the seat.