Belfast councillor defiant on rally's controversial Islam speeches
Having helped organise the ‘Northern Ireland Against Terrorism’ rally outside Belfast City Hall on Sunday, independent unionist councillor Jolene Bunting said she had no issues with any of the right-wing speakers who condemned Muslim immigration – and said she would cooperate with police if an investigation is launched.
The rally gave a platform to a number of Britain First members including its leader Paul Golding and deputy leader Jayda Fransen.
Ms Fransen told around 60 supporters in Donegall Square East that Muslims were “baying for our blood,” and added: “The world is at war with Islam. Every single Muslim is obliged to kill you and your husbands and your wives and your children.”
Commenting on terrorism carried out by people regarded as Christian, Ms Fransen said violent Irish republicans were “not Christian,” but added: “The terrorism waged by republicans is just as bad as the terrorism waged by the Muslims.”
Ms Bunting, who was elected as a TUV candidate before resigning from the party in February this year, introduced each of the four speakers in turn but also addressed the small crowd herself.
“We will start today’s rally by asking for God’s blessing on the rally,” she said before reading the Lord’s Prayer.
“I don’t care what colour your skin is, I don’t care where you come from, if your faith teaches you that you should murder people if they don’t conform to your beliefs and your ideology, then your faith needs to be opposed.”
She went on to say: “There are republican terrorists elected to our government in Stormont. Can you imagine if Prime Minister Theresa May let the political wing of Daesh go into coalition with the Tories? Yet that is exactly what we have had happen in our country.
“They are not just in our government but they are in charge of our government ... while innocent victims of terrorists struggle to have their voices heard.”
A counter demonstration was held by the ‘Belfast Says No to Fascism’ group.
Speaking to the News Letter on Monday, Ms Bunting said she was pleased with how the rally had passed off – and how many people had viewed the video of the speeches online.
“It was a complete success, and what I am really impressed with is that over 100,000 people actually saw it online,” she said.
“If the police want to investigate anything I will cooperate with them.”
Asked if she thought any of the speakers went too far in the denouncement of Islam, she said: “No.”
Addressing Sunday’s rally, Mr Golding said: “England is going to descend into civil war. There’s going to be bloodshed. You’ve seen the template for this kind of thing over in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.
“That is going to come to the mainland. Except it’s going to be far more vicious and bloodthirsty.”
Condemning Muslim immigration, he said that “politicians are deliberately replacing us in our own country – it’s an act of genocide”.
The rally organisers abided by a Parades Commission determination that the event should take place at Donegall Square East, instead of the front of the city hall, to avoid the “extremely high risks of public disorder” if it went ahead any closer to a republican ‘anti-internment’ march near the city centre.