Coveney welcomes decision by McElduff to quit and hopes for move forward

Tanáiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has said he hopes the resignation of Barry McElduff will help create space to restore talks in the North.

Barry McElduff has resigned following this controversial post he shared online.

Speaking in Cork, Mr Coveney said: “I think the apology that has been repeated again is welcome. What happened has caused a lot of hurt to families linked to the Kingsmill massacre.

"I have met them — they are very sincere and dignified people who are searching for the truth. But I think this was a very hurtful incident.

“I think that the resignation and the repeated apology today will provide, I hope, an opening of a space now that people will take to look towards reconciliation and, I hope, towards providing some positivity politically in Northern Ireland that can allow us to take on some of the decisions in the coming weeks.”

“I hope political leaders in Northern Ireland will take on [decisions] to re-establish the Assembly, to look towards managing legacy issues in a responsible way which is what everyone wants to do.”

Mr Coveney also said it was clear that Sinn Fein’s proposed three-month suspension of Mr McElduff was not proportionate.

“I think his resignation is the right decision,” he said.

“I think the hurt that has been caused by the posting of that video meant that this was going to be a very divisive issue between two communities in Northern Ireland and, most importantly, I think there is a recognition in this resignation of the hurt that was caused to families in particular.

"It is very important for the sake of reconciliation in Northern Ireland.

“There are of course many other families and many other atrocities that need to be addressed but a lot of people, myself included, felt that a suspension for three months did not recognise the import of what had happened and the hurt that was caused.

“His resignation as an MP today is an appropriate response and I hope it will be responded to in a positive way.”

The sole survivor of the attack, Alan Black, welcomed the resignation.

Mr Black said: “This past week has been truly awful for me. I am just hanging by a thread. But I am glad he has done the right thing.”

Mr Black said the fall-out from the Twitter video forced him to relive the trauma of the attack, in which he was shot 18 times.

“I am going to have to take time now to heal,” said Mr Black.

“I only got involved because of the hurt and disrespect shown to my friends who died at Kingsmill, but this whole thing has taken a heavy toll.”

It remains unclear what impact that exchange, and Mr McElduff’s subsequent resignation, will have on efforts to restore powersharing. It is a year since the region had a properly functioning devolved administration.

The institutions imploded in a row over a botched green energy scheme, but the rift subsequently widened to take in more long-standing cultural disputes.

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