McElduff’s “barrack room” humour arises from a paramilitary contempt for its own victims…

Hatred, where it still exists in Northern Ireland, goes deep. I recall the desecration of a young man’s grave 25 years after he was abducted, tortured and murdered by Loyalist paramilitaries. For some, the hatred for their organisation’s victims transcends even those victim’s terrible deaths.

After a heated weekend of comment, inevitably, Barry McElduff video is being looked at by the PSNI to see whether it’s a hate crime. Just as inevitably, they will find it’s not.

However the West Tyrone MP and his party colleagues try to wriggle out of it now, it was nothing more than a bad joke, gone badly wrong. And one tells us more than any official statement how SF public reps actually view the hapless victims of Republican murder gangs.

Whatever gets said in the heat of the moment will no doubt fade when Sinn Fein decides to get serious about reentering the institutions of the Belfast Agreement that they so hastily abandoned this time last year, supposedly on the basis of a demand for respect for the Irish language and human rights.

And yet what the McElduff incident reveals is that that respect agenda does not include the victims of Republican violence. Kingsmills was so basely sectarian that the IRA lost no time in denying it had anything to do with them, even though it was in an area controlled by them at the time.

Whilst I don’t believe it was a hate crime (an unhelpfully obtuse legal term which inserts the law were sound political or judicial judgement should be), it is also clear that Mr McElduff was not motivated by love, compassion or indeed that much vaunted respect for the victims of that terrible night.

In this, he has more in common with the apologists for the merciless spree of Loyalist killing of innocent Catholics.

Respect must work two ways.