The DUP deputy leader and outgoing North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds has insisted that posters attacking John Finucane and members of his family have nothing to do with the DUP, and that any such tactics are to be condemned.
Mr Dodds was responding on Tuesday to a number of banners that were erected in North Belfast with the slogan, "The real Finucane family", and that were targeting the Sinn Féin candidate in the constituency, John Finucane, son of murdered solicitor Pat Finucane.
“These banners have nothing to do with our campaign; we know nothing about them,” said Mr Dodds at the launch of the DUP’s Westminster election policy document, Let’s Get NI Moving Again, in the W5 science centre in the east Belfast docklands.
“We want to make it very, very clear that anything that is personally abusive or offensive or in any way inaccurate or sneering of any candidate in any political party is to be condemned,” he said.
“It is nothing to do with a proper democratic debate or democratic election. I make that very, very clear indeed,” he added.
Mr Dodds and the DUP leader Arlene Foster, however, said Sinn Féin must be equally clear in condemning violence. Mr Dodds referred to an IRA gun attack which injured a police officer guarding him as he was visiting his sick son in the Royal Victoria Hospital in west Belfast in 1996.
We condemn every act of violence from every paramilitary organisation. Do they do that? Will they do that?
The IRA said at the time the attack was aimed at the police officers and not Mr Dodds, although several unionists claim it was an assassination attempt on Mr Dodds.
Ms Foster also referred to how in 1979 the IRA tried to kill her policeman father, John, at their farm in Co Fermanagh.
Said Mr Dodds, “There is also a challenge to Sinn Féin here. They can’t be selective. We condemn every act of violence from every paramilitary organisation. Do they do that? Will they do that? Will they condemn the IRA, who went into a hospital 20 years and shot a police officer guarding me? Do they condemn it? No they don’t.”
Mr Dodds said the DUP wanted “no part of anything” that demonised or personally abused any candidate.
Ms Foster said "complete clarity" was required from Sinn Féin around some of the violent acts that took place in Northern Ireland.
“What do they have to say about the attempted murder of my father? What do they have to say about the attempted murder of Nigel Dodds? We need to hear from them what they have to say about that.”
Sinn Féin Assembly member Alex Maskey responded by accusing the DUP of engaging in a "transparent distraction" while adding that the banners were "clearly aimed to help the DUP candidate".
“There is no single and agreed narrative to the past and Sinn Féin is not interested in refighting the battles of the past,” he said.
“Our party has had members killed including our vice-president Máire Drumm who was murdered in her hospital bed,” said Mr Maskey.
He added that there was a responsibility on all political leaders to build the peace.
The DUP 12-point policy document addresses issues such as restoring Stormont, health, education, crime, the economy and, in reference to abortion, protecting "mothers and unborn life again".
This fake news and gutter politics is wrong and it needs to stop immediately, right across Northern Ireland
Meanwhile, the Alliance Party deputy leader Stephen Farry has criticised the distribution of posters in the North Down constituency, where he is a candidate, linking Alliance with the IRA.
They refer to “the unholy Alliance” and claim that people who support the party are supporting Sinn Féin and the IRA.
“Not only are these posters disingenuous but they are also dangerous, placing myself and other Alliance candidates, as well as our canvassers and supporters, at risk,” said Dr Farry.
“This fake news and gutter politics is wrong and it needs to stop immediately, right across Northern Ireland. We need to get away from this sort of politics and talk about the issues which affect the people in this election,” he added.