Northern Ireland

Election agent for Alex Easton quits over social media posts

North Down independent unionist candidate condemns comments made by his outgoing agent Austen Lennon

North Down MLA Alex Easton, whose parents Alec and Ann died in a fire at their Bangor home
North Down Westminster candidate Alex Easton.

Unionist North Down candidate Alex Easton has said social media posts made by his outgoing election agent have caused him “great hurt” and insisted they “don’t reflect my views or beliefs”.

The former DUP MLA, who is standing as an independent unionist candidate for North Down in July’s General Election, said his election agent Austen Lennon “will not be taking any further part” in his campaign after social media posts were highlighted in the Sunday Life.

It was reported the posts by Mr Lennon appeared to suggest a racial element behind a gang of luxury watch thieves, and suggested man-made global warming was a “fraud”.

The now-deleted posts reportedly also suggested those who had received the Covid vaccine were more at risk of infection that those who had not.

The paper also reported that striking public sector workers had been described in one of the posts as “lazy” and “selfish”.

In a Facebook post on Sunday, Mr Lennon said he was resigning as Mr Easton’s election agent and hit out at “smear tactics”.

Mr Easton confirmed on Sunday that Mr Lennon is no longer part of his campaign.

He wrote in a Facebook post: “After the comments made by my election agent which were said on his social media in the past has now stepped down.

“I knew nothing about these comments and they don’t reflect my views or beliefs and I condemn the comments made in the past. This has caused me great hurt and I hope people realize the type of person I really am and not to be fooled by these dirty tricks.

After the comments made by my election agent which were said on his social media in the past has now stepped down. I...

Posted by Alex Easton on Sunday 9 June 2024

“My election agent will not be taking any further part in my election campaign! This was made public by the Alliance Party who have attacked me relentlessly with smears and lies since the election started, to try and damage me!”

On Sunday, Alliance candidate for North Down, Stephen Farry, condemned the “disgusting comments and dangerous tropes” within the deleted posts.

Many of these posts are from earlier this year. Values and judgement really matter,” he said in a post to the X social media platform.