An independent unionist councillor has rejected claims that a rally she is helping to organise in Belfast will promote a “very dangerous” far right ideology.
Jolene Bunting is one of a number of “like-minded people” behind the ‘Northern Ireland Against Terrorism’ event at the city hall on August 6.
They are extremely articulate...I want their views heard
As well as Ms Bunting, other speakers include members of the Britain First group and two political activists described as “British patriots”.
The former TUV member said those behind the rally are “completely against terrorism,” and have organised the event to “highlight the fact that terrorism is going on within the UK”.
Asked why she decided to invite members of the far-right Britain First group to speak, Ms Bunting told the BBC Talkback programme: “They are extremely articulate ... I want their views heard. They are anti-Islamification in the UK”.
Programme guest Dr Joe Mulhall of the group Hope Not Hate described Britain First as “very dangerous”.
He said: “Put simply, Britain First is a dangerous far-right organisation. They are very dangerous, even within the UK far right. They are quite extreme.
“We are talking about invading mosques across the UK. We are talking about very controversial demonstrations – often in Muslim areas.”
Posters advertising the event describe it as a “rally in memory of victims of terrorism,” and advise those attending that “good standards of behaviour apply”.
Speakers include Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen of Britain First, as well as Paul Rimmer and someone identified only as ‘Banksy’ (who has no connection to the famous artist of the same name).
Speaking to the News Letter after the Talkback broadcast, Ms Bunting said she had been taken by surprise when challenged about claims Britain First was organising “knife fighting” classes in England but said she can now confirm, having researched the source of the allegation, that the description of the training was misleading.
She also said it only related to members of the group who provide security at rallies, and added: “I have been able to check up on that ... it was actually how to disarm someone who had a knife.”
Britain First leader Mr Golding said earlier this month that the knife training was “geared towards our security volunteers who protect our leaders, and teach close protection for body-guarding”.
Ms Bunting said a statement will be released within days containing “details on what the rally hopes to achieve”.