Northern Ireland news

Belfast councillor Jolene Bunting's election posters reported to watchdog

Independent councillor Jolene Bunting, and left, some of the slogans on her election posters
Brendan Hughes

COMPLAINTS have been made to a standards watchdog over a Belfast councillor's controversial election posters.

Jolene Bunting has put up council election posters with slogans about subjects including immigration and prosecutions of soldiers over Troubles killings.

They include "Put veterans before immigrants!" and "Local homes for local people!" as well as "You cannot be socialist and loyalist!" and "Stop the witch hunt of Operation Banner veterans!"

Sinn Féin described the posters as the "politics of hate", while Alliance rep Micky Murray branded them "blatant, everyday racism".

Ms Bunting, an independent unionist for the Court area, has denied claims that the slogans are racist and accused Sinn Féin of "hypocrisy", referencing IRA violence during the Troubles.

Earlier in April the PSNI said it received a "number of complaints" about the election posters, but "no offences have been detected to date".

It has since emerged that the Local Government Commissioner for Standards has also received complaints.

"We have received complaints and enquiries about the content of a number of election posters in the west Belfast area. These are currently being assessed," a spokesman for the watchdog said.

In March, a High Court judge dismissed an appeal by Ms Bunting against receiving a four-month interim suspension from the commissioner.

The standards watchdog took the step in September pending the outcome of an investigation into 14 complaints against her.

They included comments she made on a video outside Belfast Islamic Centre, and her participation at a rally in Belfast by far-right group Britain First.

The judge found the action was merited, ruling that Ms Bunting's public alignment with anti-Islamic speeches went beyond enhanced legal protection for political expression.

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