Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald says any suggestion that Conor Murphy is holding back information on the murder of Paul Quinn is deeply wrong.
The North's Finance Minister yesterday publicly apologised to the 21-year-old's family for comments made 13 years ago in the wake of Mr Quinn’s murder when he branded the South Armagh man a smuggler and criminal.
The brutal murder of Mr Quinn, and Sinn Féin’s response to it, has become a major issue in the general election campaign, with rivals claiming it is proof of the party’s continued defence of IRA violence.
Mr Murphy’s apology represented a dramatic change in position as prior to that he had denied even making the comments about Mr Quinn.
Mr Quinn, a 21-year-old from Cullyhanna in south Armagh, was beaten to death by a gang of around a dozen men in a farm shed across the border near Castleblayney, Co Monaghan.
His family blame members of the IRA, but Sinn Féin has long denied republican involvement.
Mr Quinn's parents have now asked that Mr Murphy go to the authorities with information on those responsible for their son's death.
Ms McDonald said those behind Mr Quinn's death need to be jailed and said Mr Murphy has previously spoken to the PSNI and gardaí.
“At the time, the International Monitoring Committee took a judgement in terms of Paul’s murder, and, by the way, those that carried out that diabolical act need to be apprehended and put behind bars," Ms McDonald told The Pat Kenny Show.
“Don’t insinuate that Conor [Murphy] is resisting speaking to the authorities - that is not true.”
She said: "Any notion or suggestion that's being put out there that somehow Conor Murphy is holding back information, or knows who carried out these acts is entirely wrong.
"I'm sure you'll agree that it would be deeply, deeply wrong and unfair to create that impression."
Today, a senior DUP MP has called for Mr Murphy to quit or be sacked over the comments.
Sammy Wilson’s remarks appear at odds with the DUP leadership, which has stopped short of calling for Mr Murphy’s removal as finance minister.
On Thursday, he tweeted: “Despite SF’s continual calls for transparency, integrity and accountability, they have once again illustrated that they will always side with the terrorist and not the victim. If they have any decency, Conor Murphy should be required to resign or be sacked.”