Political news

Máirtín Ó Muilleoir quizzed over Kingsmill tweet

Máirtín Ó Muilleoir retweeted Barry McEduff's controversial video. Picture by Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Brendan Hughes and Michael McHugh, Press Association

A former minister in the Stormont executive has been questioned by police investigating social media activity.

Sinn Féin Assembly member Máirtín Ó Muilleoir retweeted a video posted by former West Tyrone MP Barry McElduff which angered victims of the republican Kingsmill shootings.

Mr McElduff resigned as MP for the area in January, 10 days after a controversy flared when he posted a video of himself with a Kingsmill-branded loaf on his head on the anniversary of the notorious massacre.

He insisted the video was not an intentional reference to the 1976 sectarian murders of 10 Protestant workmen by republican paramilitaries near the Co Armagh village of Kingsmill, but he acknowledged it had caused hurt and offence to victims' families.

A PSNI statement said: "Police investigating complaints about a video uploaded to social media on January 6 have interviewed a 58-year-old man."

Detective Chief Superintendent Tim Mairs said he attended Musgrave police station in Belfast city centre voluntarily on Thursday by prior arrangement.

"A report will now be prepared for the Public Prosecution Service."

It is understood he was interviewed about offences under communications and public order laws.

Máirtín Ó Muilleoir has confirmed that he has spoken to police.

“I can confirm I was invited to attend a short interview with the PSNI on a voluntary basis and was happy to do so," he said. 

"I reiterated to the PSNI that I considered Barry McElduff’s tweet to be entirely innocent and apolitical and retweeted on that basis.” 

Mr Ó Muilleoir was finance minister in the Executive from 2016 until the collapse of powersharing last year.

Last week Sinn Féin's Orfhlaith Begley became the new West Tyrone MP in the by-election triggered by Mr McElduff's resignation.

On polling day, Mr McElduff's daughter Blathnaid McElduff revealed on Twitter that she was voting for the Alliance candidate.

Both of Mr McElduff's daughters have strongly defended their father online since the loaf controversy erupted.

Blathnaid, who worked in the service station where Mr McElduff made the video, said: "I send my da to get a loaf of bread and he gets suspended for three months because he happened to pick Kingsmill bread on the anniversary of the Kingsmill massacre. Coincidences aren't allowed apparently."

Niamh McElduff, who describes herself online as a Sinn Féin activist, described her father as "a good person" and questioned why he would set out to mock Kingsmill victims.

"It makes no logical, political or personal sense," she tweeted.

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