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'Stop this gruesome tit for tat': Kingsmill loaf row rumbles on as cartoon sparks Twitter uproar

Sinn Féin’s Barry McElduff posted a controversial video of him with a loaf of ‘Kingsmill’ bread on his head on the Kingsmill massacre anniversary.

ALLIANCE PARTY MP for East Belfast Naomi Long has launched an attack on two unionist politicians after they tweeted a satirical cartoon drawn on the back of the controversial Kingsmill loaf video.

Long accused DUP MLA for South Belfast Christopher Stalford and Upper Bann UUP MLA Doug Beattie of posting the image, penned by artist Brian John Spencer, on their Twitter accounts “to score cheap political points”.

The cartoon shows a van that has been hit with numerous bullets, smeared with red blood.

The cartoon is captioned “Sinn Féin’s red lines”. It features a man, who looks like Gerry Adams, with a speech bubble containing the word “equality”.

The infamous massacre saw a van carrying a group of textile workers pulled over by men disguised as British soldiers on 5 January 1976. The protestant workers were lined up and asked their religion before the gunmen opened fire; 10 men were killed.

A 2011 inquiry found that those who carried out the massacre were members of the Provisional IRA who were acting under the name the South Armagh Republican Action Force.

Last week, Sinn Féin MP Barry McElduff posted a controversial video of himself balancing a loaf of ‘Kingsmill’ bread on his head on the anniversary of the Kingsmill massacre. He later deleted it from social media.

Stalford tweeted the cartoon and said: “Sinn Féin: Offended by everything and ashamed of nothing.” Beattie also tweeted the image.

Hitting back Stalford’s tweet, Long called for it to be removed.

“Remove this. Stop this gruesome tit for tat and show some leadership and respect. This revolting image can do nothing other than cause further pain and hurt. Don’t be part of politicising what was an obscene atrocity,” Long said.

She tweeted that she is “beyond disappointed” with Beattie and also called on him to delete the image.

“I actually think he has brought some fresh thinking to politics. Sharing this image in the current febrile political climate is a major misjudgement. I hope he sees that and removes it. We really need to stop politicking over the dead,” Long tweeted.

In a follow-up tweet, Stalford said that “if a single person connected with the events asks me to remove it I will do so in an instant, but I will not be deleting anything, least of all (and this obviously doesn’t refer to you) at the behest of the Sinn Féin Twitter mob”.

A few hours later, Stalford tweeted that he had been contacted by someone affected by the massacre asking for the removal of the image.

“I was contacted by a representative of a family member of one of those affected by the Kingsmill massacre. They asked for the cartoon to be removed. Accordingly, I have done so,” he tweeted.

PSNI investigation

Pressure has been mounting on McElduff since he posted the video to social media, as police in Northern Ireland have now confirmed that an investigation has been launched into the incident.

Detective Chief Superintendent Tim Mairs said: “Police have received a number of reports on a social media platform, made by a local public representative.

“Detectives are in the process of gathering evidence, including from those members of the public who have contacted the police service.”

original A screengrab of the offending video.

A group of MPs have also tabled a motion for his resignation.

Sinn Féin announced on Monday that McElduff has been suspended from the party for three months following an uproar over the video. Both the party and McElduff have apologised for his actions. The apologies can be read here.

An online petition calling on the resignation of McElduff has gained over 30,000 signatures since it was launched over the weekend.

The petition says: “We believe Barry McElduff’s ‘apology’ is not enough. The unionist community and particularly the families of those murdered deserve more than a mere apology.”

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald has denied the party’s credibility has been damaged by the controversy surrounding McElduff.

She said the punishment meted out to McElduff is both “appropriate and proportionate”.

When asked on RTÉ’s Six One News if Sinn Féin’s credibility was damaged as a result of the controversy, McDonald said she didn’t accept that – and that the “only person whose credibility was damaged is Barry McElduff”.

Read: Mary Lou says Kingsmill video hasn’t damaged Sinn Féin’s credibility

More: Sinn Féin MP suspended for three months over Kingsmill video

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