Jolene Bunting was the first candidate to represent the Traditional Unionist Voice party on Belfast City Council. The Unionist party are committed to Northern Ireland remaining part of Great Britain and oppose Irish Nationalism which supports the idea of a united Ireland.
Bunting soon proved herself to be a divisive figure and a poor ambassador for her party when comments she had previously made about Catholics were brought to the attention of the press.
This tweet, published on the day after St Patrick’s Day in 2011 was deemed to be particularly offensive.
Jolene subsequently apologised for her use of the word ‘Catholics’ and acknowledged she meant Republicans. On this occasion she was supported by her party, the leader of which described the finding of her old tweets as ‘an unfair fishing exercise.’ However this tweet was not a bigoted comment in isolation and many other hate tweets by Bunting found their way into the Irish press.
By February 2017 the scandals surrounding Bunting’s views could no longer be ignored by the Traditional Unionist Voice Party and they parted ways with Bunting. She retained her role on Belfast City Council, but as an independent, not as a representative of the TUV.
The next scandal to hit Jolene Bunting was her association with hate group Britain First. In December 2017 she received a 30 day ban from Facebook for her posts supporting Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen (who both served prison sentences in 2018).
She organised a rally to support Britain First:
Continuing her links with Jayda Fransen Bunting was in the headlines again in Jan 2018 when she arranged a visit to Belfast for Fransen and took photographs of the Britain First deputy leader wearing mayoral robes and sitting in the Lord Mayor’s chair. Bunting was investigated for her role in the incident with the deputy mayor of Belfast city saying: “Jayda Fransen’s actions were disrespectful to the office of lord mayor and to the city council itself.”
In March 2018 Bunting accompanied the Britain First leaders to court where they were found guilty of hate crimes. A few weeks later she defended the posting of anti Islam leaflets through residents doors in Belfast. She defended this hate leaflet (below) by saying “I believe they [the leaflets] were information. It may not have been put in the most helpful way, but people in this city need to know information about all faiths in society.”
May 2018 saw Bunting get carried away with her Twitter account again when she posted a tweet with this image on her account.
The frogs depicted in the image are Pepe the Frog – well known symbol of the far right. The inscription on the hat of the smaller frog is a reference to the Irish famine between 1845 and 1849 where over a million people in Irelend lost their lives. The way the frog has been drawn attracted accusations that in addition to the obvious racist and sectarian overtures of the cartoon, the intent was also to mock young people with disabilities. The image, captioned in a tweet with the comment ‘C’Mon Paddy, EU can leave too’ caused an outcry both from the press and the public. A fellow counsellor called for Bunting to be suspended from public office.
Instead of apologising Bunting attempted to bluff her way out of the hole she had dug for herself. Initially she denied the tweet was offensive, referring to the people who were offended as ‘Triggered Leftists’. When it became apparent that of all political persuasions found her tweet offensive she changed tactic and claimed she had been unable to read the small print written on the smaller frog’s head.
The video below shows Bunting trying to defend her tweet.
VIDEO: Response to ‘Triggered’ Leftists
Posted by Cllr Jolene Bunting on Thursday, 3 May 2018
She then had a second go at posting the tweet but this time replacing the wording on the smaller frog with the European flag.
In June 2018 Bunting cemented her allegiance to the far right still further by helping to organise the Free Tommy (convicted fraudster Stephen Yaxley-Lennon convicted fraudster) protest. During this protest there were men in Belfast openly making Nazi salutes in public. Bunting dismissed the salutes as: “completely out of order, but it was taken out of context.” She was accused of bringing Nazis to Belfast as a result of the offending behaviour.
Bunting has been told she is prohibited from standing in the 2019 Belfast council elections due to her history of inappropriate posts on social media, the anti Islam rallies she has organised and taken part in and her links to hate group Britain First.
Background in Investigative journalism. Mum. Christian. I’m better than nobody and nobody is better than me.