Barry McElduff continues to claim that he did not realise the connection
A Sinn Féin MP has resigned his position amid controversy over an offensive video he posted on Twitter.
Barry McElduff posted a video of himself with a loaf of Kingsmill bread on his head – on the anniversary of the notorious Kingsmill massacre.
He deleted the post soon after, claiming he did not realise the connection.
The massacre on 5th January 1976 saw a van carrying group of textile workers pulled over by men disguised as British soldiers.
The workers were lined up and asked their religion before the gunmen opened fire.
Ten men were killed.
In a statement this morning, Mr McElduff said it was “with great sadness” that he was resigning as MP for West Tyrone after 30 years as an active Sinn Féin member.
“The deep and unnecessary hurt this video caused the families of the victims of Kingsmill is my greatest regret,” he said.
“I again offer my profound apology to those families and to the wider victim’s community.”
However, Mr McElduff continues to claim that his tweet was not a deliberate attempt to reference the massacre.
“Had I been conscious of the connection to the terrible atrocity at Kingsmill I would certainly not have posted that tweet,” he said.
“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.”
This afternoon, DUP leader Arlene Foster said it was "right" that Mr McElduff should resign.
"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," she said.
"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.
She said the party had "got this badly wrong" adding that now is the time for it to "learn the lessons from these dark events."
Mr McElduff accepted that “there are many people who do not believe" that he was unaware of the connection to the massacre when he posted the video.
“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," he said.
“I am an Irish republican and believe wholeheartedly 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 Féin's leader in the North, Michelle O'Neill has accepted the resignation and thanked Mr McElduff for his work over the past 20 years.
“He has said that he does not want to be a barrier to reconciliation and I respect that decision,” she said.
“Over the coming weeks Sinn Féin will focus our full efforts on the restoration of the power-sharing institutions on the basis of equality, integrity and respect and fulfil the mandate we received from the electorate in two successive elections last year.”