Alliance Leader Naomi Long MLA has said Sinn Féin’s three-month suspension of Barry McElduff will be seen as weak by many.
“The party remained quiet long after Barry McElduff’s video became public and the offence it had caused was clear,” she said.
“They then raised expectations today with strong condemnation from Declan Kearney, that this would be dealt with as a matter of the utmost seriousness. Instead, whilst Barry McElduff is suspended from the party for three months, it transpires he will continue to be paid by Sinn Féin throughout.
“We have made it clear while we recognise the apology and welcome the party taking action, he has failed to provide explanation as to any innocent intention behind his actions. In those circumstances and until he does so, this stops well short of what would have been expected for such conduct.
“The thoughts and feelings of the families of the victims, as well as the sole survivor, are the most important thing in all of this. They suffered yet more hurt and distress as a result of Mr McElduff’s actions and will no doubt see today’s response by Sinn Féin as weak.
“I think this entire sorry episode has highlighted yet again our abject failure as a society to deal with victims with respect and treat families and survivors with dignity. Sadly, it is not an isolated incident, either in politics or in our community, where the hurt and pain of grieving families are often compounded by callous and disrespectful words and actions, which fly in the face of human decency.
“If anything valuable is to be salvaged from the last few days, we now need to reflect collectively on how we will address our past and those most directly affected by it with integrity and compassion, and find a way to co-exist which ensures there will be no repeat either of this behaviour or of that which led to the creation of victims in the first place.”