BBC Talkback 'hijack' storm overshadows Naomi Long's Alliance election manifesto launch
The Alliance Party launched its manifesto on Tuesday morning at the Park Avenue Hotel in Belfast following a Belfast Telegraph exclusive report into the party's attempts to "hijack" BBC coverage in the run up to the March 2 poll.
The Belfast Telegraph exposed a plot to "hijack" a BBC radio phone-in show with fake callers, revealed in explosive posts from a secret social media group.
Prior to the launch Noami Long took to Facebook to say the event would be streamed live on Facebook and those watching could interact and ask questions or issues. She said that while during the event they could not get back to people, "we certainly will after".
"Will you have pre-written questions submitted by members of your party like you do on Talk Back," was one immediate response.
Around 10 minutes later the launch did begin to stream live on the social network, however, it ended abruptly moments into the broadcast.
An Alliance spokesman said technical issues prevented the broadcast.
At the event, Mrs Long quipped that although she had the "lurgy" she would be taking questions. This was in response to Arlene Foster having "man flu" and being unable to take questions at the DUP manifesto launch.
Referencing our story, it was joked that while they would take questions, they would only be "planted ones".
Mrs Long also said that she would have taken this newspaper's revelations over the "hijack" plot more seriously had the messages "been serious".
Alliance said the secret Facebook group the messages were posted on were "light-hearted and tongue-in-cheek, which is well understood by everyone involved".
“Any reference to phone-in shows were very obviously made in that tongue-in-cheek style," a statement said.