Belfast councillor ‘proscribed’ from Britain First after row

Anti-fascist demonstrators protest against far-right group in Co Down

Controversial independent unionist councillor Jolene Bunting has been "proscribed" from the far-right Britain First group following a public row.

Britain First spokesman Paul Golding, from London, issued a statement on Friday evening saying the group had "severed all contact" with Cllr Bunting, who was elected as a TUV councillor to represent the Court district of Belfast but is now independent.

Cllr Bunting then said on social media she would be contacting her legal team over allegations Golding had made about her and her partner.

Cllr Bunting, who regularly leads “UK Freedom” rallies attended by Generation Identity and other such groups has previously facilitated Britain First taking part in demonstrations in Belfast.

She denies any wrongdoing.

Golding, who was in jail for anti-Muslim hate crimes, is due to go on trial in Belfast along with deputy leader Jayda Fransen – who is currently in prison – over anti-Islam speeches they gave at a rally in Belfast last year.

They deny charges of “using threatening, abusive, insulting words or behaviour”.

It had been expected that Britain First would gather in Newtownards, Co Down, on Saturday afternoon.

Police were outside the local leisure centre where up to 10 people, linked to Britain First, were seen milling around.

One man, wearing a BFD logo hat and T-shirt, with shorts and brilliant white trainers, said Britain First was holding a private meeting in Belfast and a second man wearing similar clothing, said that Newtownards was a “redirection point” to this.

Another man, who was with the first two, declined to speak to The Irish Times on the grounds he said he was "against terrorism".

After about half an hour some of the men got into a black van and left the area to the shouts of “cheerio” from the 40 or so anti-fascist demonstrators gathered outside the leisure centre.

‘Vile racism’

Green Party activist John Barry said the peaceful demonstration outside the centre, attended by trade union activists and others, was organised to take "a stand against hatred and the vile racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia of Britain First".

"Ulster has suffered enough," he said.

“We don’t need the likes of them in our community.”

An Ards Leisure Centre staff member said there was never a Britain First meeting booked to take place at the centre.

UUP MLA Mike Nesbitt said he was there as he was “instinctively against what Britain First stands for”.

Mr Nesbitt said the group "does not represent the Newtownards town centre I know or would aspire to create.

"If you support Britain and it's past, it's history and creating an empire, then a Commonwealth, then you have got to understand that people from other countries and cultures will have an affinity with the United Kingdom and want to come here and we should celebrate that not reject it."