Naomi Long criticised for going on funfair ride after pulling out of Ireland's Future event

By Rebecca Black, PA

Alliance Party leader Naomi Long has said she spent just 30 seconds on a fun fair ride in Portrush during a busy day of election campaigning.

Ms Long received criticism from some when a picture emerged on social media of her on a ghost train after she pulled out of the Ireland’s Future event citing diary clashes following the calling of the Westminster election.

North Belfast election candidate Nuala McAllister took part in the event in Belfast on Saturday instead of her party leader.

The event, aimed to promote debate and discussion about what a united Ireland would look like, was addressed by former taoiseach Leo Varadkar and First Minister Michelle O’Neill among others.

Ms Long was speaking in the Stormont Assembly on Monday after being challenged by Opposition leader Matthew O’Toole around how her role as the North's Justice Minister will be filled if she is elected as MP for east Belfast.

Mr O’Toole made a reference to Ms Long’s diary including visits to funfairs.

The exchange came during questions for the Justice Minister.

Ms Long responded saying she doesn’t believe the General Election is a matter that falls to the Department of Justice.

She said she cannot use her resources in the department to promote her election campaign, adding she didn’t think other parties “should be using this chamber to promote theirs”.

She added: “But I’m glad to know that the member is watching me so closely in terms of how I spend my time outside the chamber.

“He will no doubt have also recognised that the 30 seconds I spent on the ghost train, which, by the way, was excellent value for money, was only a tiny part of a busy day spent on the campaign trail.”