The sister of an IRA murder victim temporarily locked her Twitter account earlier today after she had a social media spat with Alliance leader Naomi Long over a post about events to mark the 25th anniversary of the Shankill bomb.
Ann Travers, whose sister Mary was shot dead in April 1984, sparked an angry reaction from the East Belfast MLA with a tweet about events being held to commemorate the 1993 IRA atrocity.
Mrs Long felt the tweet, which linked to details of the anniversary events and said ‘Everyone was welcome, no special invitation needed’, was clearly directed at her and her party – something Ms Travers denied.
Responding to Ms Travers’ tweet, Mrs Long posted: “Ann, with all due respect, I was not aware of all the events & for you to suggest that Alliance would snub the victims is out of order.
“I have never given you any reason to make such an appalling insinuations about me or my colleagues.
“Genuinely disappointed you would do so.”
However, Ms Travers replied: “Naomi, this is not my suggestion and I am surprised at you.
“I did read somewhere on Twitter that there was an unawareness when events were being held. Hence why I posted my tweet. I did not name you or your party.
“Not into Twitter spats Naomi, feel free to contact me directly.”
But Mrs Long didn’t accept her explanation, saying: “You posted this in the middle of attacks on me and my party for not attending: the obvious link to that was not just made by me.
“More than happy to speak with you at any time.”
Ms Travers later tweeted: “Why not approach me directly? I posted this when people were saying there was no knowledge of events on Saturday.. The rally unfortunately clashed with a memorial , knowing one of the organisers, I know this wasn’t intentional but better to apologise than get defensive.”
But Mrs Long responded: “Apologise for what? I didn’t know of the event and didn’t organise the rally. Only local councillors from the area attended: no other party leaders are being attacked.
“Why didn’t you approach me privately rather than post on Twitter in the middle of a hail of abuse?”
Following the spat, Ms Travers tweeted an apology to the Shankill bomb families, saying: “I apologise to the Shankill bomb families for any deflection from their memories. Thoughts are with you all.”
Later posting that she was “very disappointed in some on this app today”, Ms Travers said she was locking her account “for the time being.”