The DUP has said it is “unaware” of banners erected in loyalist areas of Belfast attacking Sinn Fein general election candidate John Finucane and his family.
The DUP told the Belfast Telegraph it condemns violence or anyone inciting hatred and challenged Sinn Fein to condemn those behind IRA murders in North Belfast during the Troubles.
A number of banners have been put up in loyalist areas in Belfast attacking Mr Finucane and members of his family, including his late father Pat, who was murdered by the UDA in 1989.
The DUP said it was unaware of the banners.
Over the weekend images of the banner and those who put it up were shared throughout social media with many Sinn Fein members calling on the DUP to respond.
Sinn Fein MLA and policing spokesperson Gerry Kelly called on the police to remove the banners.
“Both John Finucane and Sinn Fein have reported these vile and scurrilous banners to the PSNI as hate crimes,” he said.
“The banners inciting people to hatred should be removed immediately and those responsible should be prosecuted.
“These banners have been erected against a backdrop of threats from loyalist paramilitaries against the UUP, Sinn Fein posters being taken down by masked men and the deafening silence of the DUP.
“The attacks on John Finucane are an attack on the wider democratic process.
“The DUP must break its silence on these attacks, defend the democratic process and support the police in taking action against those responsible.”
A DUP spokesman told the Belfast Telegraph: “We are unaware of the matter. If it has been reported to the police then anyone with information should help their inquiries. The DUP consistently condemns violence or anyone inciting hatred.
“Will Sinn Fein now condemn those behind the many PIRA murders in North Belfast?”
Mr Finucane, who is Lord Mayor of Belfast, is hoping to unseat DUP MP Nigel Dodds in North Belfast in the upcoming General Election.
Police have been approached for a comment.
With many thanks to the: Belfast Telegraph and Mark Edwards for the original story
The hate campaign against the Finucane family, orchestrated by loyalist paramilitaries, aided & abetted by DUP silence & PSNI inaction is rotten to it’s core! Give them your answer ~Get on the elect register ~Apply for a proxy/postal vote if absent ~And Vote John Finucane
Nine charities have been warned about crossing political boundaries over a letter which urged the UUP to stand aside to give the DUP a better chance of retaining one of its seats in the forthcoming General Election.
The Charities Commission has strongly rejected any suggestion it was itself acting in a political matter by issuing the warnings saying the matter came to its attention when the letter appeared in the Belfast Telegraph and it acted in line with its core values.
A spokeswoman said: “The independent nature of the charitable sector is of fundamental importance to society and is greatly valued by the public.
“The guiding principle of charity law in terms of campaigning, political activity and elections is that charities must be, and be seen to be, independent of party politics.”
A series of high-profile unionists warned the then incoming UUP leader Steve Aiken he risked handing the DUP’s Nigel Dodds’s North Belfast seat to Sinn Fein through his ant-pact stance.
Mr Aiken – who was at the time the incoming leader of the UUP – said he intended to run candidates in all 18 constituencies in an interview with this organisation, to give unionist voters a choice between his remain-focused party and the pro-leave DUP.
He later rowed back, and the party stood aside in North Belfast. Police are also investigating paramilitary threats made against party officials.
Those behind the letter outlined their “strong opposition” to any proposal to split the unionist vote in a seat always held by a unionist.
Unionists pen letter urging UUP’s Aiken not to split vote in North Belfast
It was signed by 25 people including unionist politicians, Orange Order members and others who said they were part of various residents’ groups.
One signatory said he was part of the Carnmoney Royal British Legion. The British Legion was forced to come out and distance itself from the letter saying it was “strictly” a non-party political organisation and it was investigating the “mis-use” of its name.
Thursday’s Irish News reported some of those organisations named on the letter were sanctioned.
The Charities Commission confirmed to the Belfast Telegraph it had contacted nine organisations offering them the opportunity to take remedial action.
Shankill Women’s Centre
Woodvale Residents Association – which received two letters for its unincorporated and incorporated separate entities
Rathcoole Friends of the Somme
Lower Oldpark Community Association
Belfast County Grand Lodge
Greater Shankill Community Council
Belfast Orange Hall
Concerned Upper Ardoyne Residents Association
It said charities had to avoid appearing to support political parties or politicians or favouring them in any way.
The charities were given until November 18 to familiarise themselves with guidance published on its website, confirm any posts which breached the guidelines had been removed and make sure all staff were aware of the organisation’s obligations as a charity.
Nigel Dodds has been MP for North Belfast since 2001, when he took the seat from the UUP’s Cecil Walker. By 2010 his majority had been cut to 2,224. In 2015 and 2017 the UUP did not stand a candidate in the constituency. At the last election, Mr Dodds had a 2,081 majority over Sinn Fein’s John Finucane.
The letter to Steve Aiken stated North Belfast “holds a special place in the heart of the unionist community across Northern Ireland” and Nigel Dodds had been the “collective choice” of that community.
“Whilst we the undersigned come from different political viewpoints, as unionists, we are all united in our desire to ensure North Belfast returns a unionist Member of Parliament.”
It urged Mr Aiken to put country before party, adding: “Only Nigel can retain this seat.”
A spokeswoman for the Charities Comission added: “The Commission refutes allegations it is acting in a political manner. This case came to our attention as it involved charities being named in the most public manner possible – published in a daily newspaper.
“The action taken is in line with the Commission’s values of proportionality, impartiality and independence, and is in keeping with action taken in other cases that have come to our attention where a charity has acted in breach of the campaigning guidance, regardless of what section of the community it may be associated with.”
With many thanks to the: Belfast Telegraph for the original story
% correct-#SouthBelfast is drifting further by the day from the #Dup grasp as it now seems the #UUP are up for a scrap there after being intimidated out of the #NorthBefast fight by loyalist paramilitaries-a dish serve cold it seems in SB.
With many thanks to: Seán South for the original posting on Twitter@Seanofthesouth
A DUP election candidate has said she is disappointed that the UUP is running a candidate in her constituency, potentially splitting the unionist vote.
Emma Little Pengelly is defending a 1,996-vote majority in South Belfast.
At the weekend Michael Henderson was selected as the Ulster Unionist election candidate for the area.
Mr Henderson represents Castlereagh South on Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council.
The move could improve the chances of the SDLP’s Claire Hanna or Alliance’s Paula Bradshaw taking the seat.
Sinn Fein opted against putting a candidate forward in South Belfast after the SDLP declined to stand in North Belfast.
Green Party leader Clare Bailey also decided against standing candidates in Belfast to boost the chances of pro-Remain politicians being elected.
Ms Pengelly said it was “very disappointing to hear UUP are running a candidate in South Belfast”. She continued: “So many unionists, across all party views, have contacted me to express strong feelings on this.
“Can I appeal to all to remain stoic and calm despite this decision – no matter how strongly the views, please do nothing that could damage the cause or our campaign to hold this seat for the Union.
“We need all and every vote.
“Let us focus on uniting unionists behind the unionist cause that can win this seat, and let’s do so with the positivity, love and strength that unites us.”
The UUP was contacted about its decision to run in the South Belfast constituency.
With many thanks to the: Belfast Telegraph and Mark Edwards for the original story