I kinda like Barry McElduff, one of three Sinn Féin MLAs in West Tyrone. Some people think he is a buffoon but I think he just acts like a buffoon. This is often the case with people who are self-deprecating and who dont take themselves seriously. The problem in Politics is that if you dont take yourself seriously, nobody else will.
So Barry McElduff…now the senior of his three Sinn Féin colleagues …is the destined to be the “class clown” on the SF benches. But he is the least likely of any Sinn Féin MLA to getany kinda Ministerial post. In some ways …thats a pity….but the rewards for being the stand-up comedian in Sinn Féin is exactly the same as any other post…”the average industrial wage”.
Usually, Barry McElduff is fully aware of his role in politics/entertainment.
So…nice to see him give an unwitting performance.
He sent out a circular to a thousand constituents in part of his constituency, pledging to fight “Tory cuts” and noting how the budgets of local services were under pressure.
Few would disagree with him.
The problem was that Barry claimrd £900 in postage costs from the hard-pressed Taxpayer. He has had to pay it all back.
Oops. Frankly no big deal in many respects. The expenses claimed by or for Sinn Féin MLAs have come under acrutiny before.
But it is embarrassing. Obviously, it is in the interests of Sinn Féin spinners to say “nothing to see here….please go home”. And obviously its in the interests of opponents of Sinn Féin to highliight the the case and to make the most of the embarrassment to Barry and his Party.
i think there is a deeper issue. Usually Sinn Féin can deflect criticism. They are held to a low standard and their publicity machine can go quickly into top gear. But to me, it is yet another sign that Sinn Féin have lost their touch.
Sinn Féin have stopped being lucky…all the time. Like the Welfare issue itself and the over-reaction to people daring to protest the decisions, there is a hint of a Party that is wounded.
It comes at a time when SDLP has made itself more relevant tnan at any time in recent years. SDLP seem to have a degree of momentum.
Today, it is Barry McElduff’s turn to take the Sinn Féin pup for a walk.