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Alliance Party raises eyebrows with late night tweet accusing former councillor of “slabbering”

Updated: Aug 19, 2023

Eugene Reid and Alliance Party logo

Eyebrows have been raised and questions asked after the Alliance Party entered into a spat on social media with former Ballymena councillor Eugene Reid.

The incident happened on Thursday night, 17 August, when a tweet on the official Alliance Party account accused Mr Reid of "slabbering" and insinuated that the Party knew of an "embarrassing secret" of the former SDLP council member. The tweet was deleted a short time later.

Eugene Reid lost his seat on Mid and East Antrim Borough Council in May's election, but has been critical of the party after Alliance Councillor John Hyland announce his decision to "stand down" and return to his native Liverpool, citing a change in his personal circumstances.

On Thursday evening Eugene Reid tagged the Alliance Party in a tweet and seemed to make reference to Mr Hyland's resignation saying:

Tweet from Eugene Reid

East Antrim Alliance MLA Danny Donnelly replied accusing Reid of "bad form".

Tweet from Danny Donnelly

Meanwhile, former Ballymena Alliance councillor David Reid accused Eugene of "sour grapes":

Tweet from David Reid

However it was a tweet that was published on Alliance's official account at 10:41pm that has garnered the most shocked responses:

Tweet from Alliance Party

The tweet also attached a screenshot showing Eugene Reid had 'blocked' the Alliance Party account, and a screenshot showing a comment he had previously made under a recent photo of Alliance representatives on social media. Mr Reid commented underneath the post:

Tweet from Eugene Reid

The Alliance Party tweet, which was deleted around one hour later, received a variety of responses with some questioning if it was suitable language for an official political party account, while others accused the party of threatening Reid. These included:

"What is the PoliceServiceNI doing about this blackmail from Alliance Party, what is Naomi Long doing about it as party leader?"

"I'm no Alastair Campbell, but I'm not sure a political party using the word 'slabbering' in public communications is a terribly good idea."

"Too many rowntree fruit pastilles by looks of things!"

"Looks like a hurty feelings post?"

"It'd be quite fun I think to have a wee drink with the Alliance social media team..."

"Get that phone away from Naomi Long or whoever's been on the wine and is tweeting away."

"Are yous high?"

"That's a remarkable threat. Isn't that a criminal offence."

"Wow, you serious? Really? I'm actually gobsmacked at this..."

"Seriously? Is this really appropriate? Is this a parody account?"

"Very professional."

"Someone has hacked the Alliance Parties twitter! Or they've been on the wine."

"The sheer lack of professional behaviour from this, a political party account, is quite frankly a bizarre blunder. You lost all your leverage against the man the moment you hit send. Now a clean-up operation will have to take place by the party tomorrow. Well done."

North Antrim DUP MLA Paul Frew weighed in on the tirade today saying:

"All kicking off in Ballymena between SDLP and Alliance Party.

"If Alliance have something on Eugene that’s public interest why would they keep it secret? Are they using this to intimidate and bully him? That’s really serious and should be investigated.

"To be fair on Eugene he has been highly critical of Colum Eastwood of late and rightly so. Alliance Party really needs to do better, they should apologise immediately and outline what they were attempting to do.

"No elected representatives past or present should be subjected to or be a victim of this type of dark behaviour by the Alliance Party."

Responding to the social media incident, an Alliance Party spokesperson said the tweet was meant in a "lighted-hearted" way:

"This was a light-hearted way of addressing continual derogatory trolling and baiting of our elected representatives by this individual, including yesterday.

"However, we appreciate humour doesn’t always translate on social media, hence the post being deleted."

Former SDLP Ballymena councillor Eugene Reid

Former SDLP Ballymena councillor Eugene Reid

Speaking to Love Ballymena on Friday, Eugene Reid denied trolling the Alliance Party and explained:

"I genuinely had a conversation with a very good friend and community leader on Thursday evening. I have worked with her, and continue to do so, to deliver change for some of the most vulnerable and forgotten communities in my town.

"She expressed concern and annoyance at elected representatives leaving their positions.

"I am not, and never have “trolled” any politician from any particular party. My record shows that I call out anyone whom I think is not delivering as per their position as a public servant.

"I am sure that the public can make up their own minds with respect to the tweet from The Alliance Party. “Light hearted” it certainly was not."


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