East Belfast Alliance Westminster candidate, Naomi Long, has stated that she has been contacted this afternoon by constituents who are furious at a dirty tricks leaflet being distributed in East Belfast. The leaflet, branded in Alliance colours, is urging Alliance voters to support the UUP at Westminster. In addition to a plea to vote Ulster Unionist, it wrongly claims that the UUP supports Alliance ideals such as a shared future and includes a graph that gives the wrong figures for party support at the Assembly election.
Cllr Long MLA stated: “I had a number of phone calls to my office this afternoon from people who were initially confused as to why Alliance would
circulate such a leaflet. However, their confusion quickly turned to anger and disgust when they read the small print, and realised that this leaflet had nothing to do with the Alliance Party at all, but rather is an attempted perversion of the democratic process, by people hiding behind a PO Box address. Decent people are rightly disgusted and repulsed by such tactics.
“Alliance is investigating the publication of this leaflet and we have established that the PO Box is registered to a design company on the Holywood Road in East Belfast. This company has printed a number of leaflets for the Ulster Unionists this year. Despite this, I understand that UUP staff first claimed not to know the company and then that this was merely ‘a bizarre coincidence’.
“This leaflet has now been distributed in at least seven constituencies, and given the scale of the operation, there is a strong likelihood that those responsible are in breach of the criminal law regarding electoral expenditure. Alliance has made a formal complaint to the Electoral
Commission and also asked the Police Service to investigate this issue.
“This is a deliberate perversion of the democratic process by people who haven’t the guts to stand up and defend their position publicly and who have nothing positive to offer the people of East Belfast.
“Given that this leaflet was printed in East Belfast, is being circulated on Sir Reg Empey’s doorstep, and that he would be the direct beneficiary of the course of action it promotes, I would call on him now to publicly disassociate himself from the leaflet and condemn those who would try to insult the intelligence and integrity of East Belfast people in such a shabby act.
“Those who contacted me today certainly found the leaflet helpful in deciding who they will support for Westminster next week — they are now
absolutely confirmed in their support for Alliance.
“I would encourage people to turn out in record numbers on polling day and send a clear message about what they think of such dirty tricks — by voting Alliance, and by voting for honesty, integrity and progress.”