The DUP attacked relatives of people murdered by the unionist paramilitary UVF and as a result of collusion at the St Andrews talks last week.
DUP MP Sammy Wilson accused Paul McIlwaine - whose son David was stabbed to death by UVF members - of allying himself with “people who support murderers” during an angry exchange outside the talks venue. It is understood Wilson was referring to Sinn Féin.
A woman whose 87-year-old uncle was killed in the Loughinisland bar attack said she was horrified and insulted to be accused of associating with the IRA.
The row blew up when two DUP MPs - Mr Wilson and Jeffrey Donaldson - refused to accept material from the victims’ relatives about collusion.
Relatives of the Catholic and Protestant victims were at St Andrews to present a letter to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, calling for his government to come clean over a wealth of evidence that UVF killers were protected because they were informers.
Mr McIlwaine said: “Nobody else had any problem taking a leaflet off us.
“When they refused, I said ‘Why can’t you stand up and fight for justice for an 18-year-old boy? I’m a Protestant from a loyalist area and you won’t do anything for me’.
“Then I was accused of throwing in with the IRA and running with the Provos.
“How do they expect to sit down together and form a government if they behave like that?”
Moira Casement witnessed the row. Her uncle, Barney Green, was murdered by the UVF while watching a World Cup match in the 1994 Loughinisland attack. An informer recently admitted supplying the car used by the killers.
She said Mr Wilson’s comments “insulted everybody”.
“I never witnessed anything like that in my life,” she said. “Spitting venom is the only way to describe it.”
Mr Wilson responded: “She may say that but as far I’m concerned the group that they were identified with is a group which has concentrated solely on the actions of the police and Army and has ignored totally the mass murder of the IRA which indicates the kind of group they are.
“I find it strange that anybody would think that a group like that would be able to get justice for anybody or seek justice for anybody.”
Speaking from Scotland, Sinn Féin’s Caitriona Ruane said the behaviour of the two DUP MPs was an insult.
“They used foul and abusive language towards a group who were trying to ensure that the voice of victims was heard during the talks,” she said.
“Earlier in the day Sinn Féin met victims campaigners from across the community. The leadership of the DUP need to publicly reprimand these two individuals because their behaviour was totally out of order.”
* Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan and DUP policing board member Ian Paisley jnr were also involved in a public row in a Belfast coffee shop last week.
The pair met by chance in Smith and Gibson’s coffee shop in Bedford Street on Tuesday.
It is thought Mrs O’Loan approached Mr Paisley and expressed her concerns about remarks allegedly made by Mr Paisley about her children.
“There was a chance encounter and Mrs O’Loan and Mr Paisley got into a discussion about a matter involving Mrs O’Loan’s family and children and there was a difference of opinion,” a Police Ombudsman spokesman said.