Northern Ireland news

Jayda Fransen sentenced to community service over Islam speech

Former Britain First Deputy Leader Jayda Fransen is to appeal her sentence

A FORMER deputy leader of far-right group Britain First has been given 180 hours community service for stirring up hatred towards Muslims in Northern Ireland.

Jayda Fransen (33) was found guilty over a speech she made at a rally in Belfast and separate comments at a peace wall in the city.

Fransen, of Moat Avenue in Donaghadee, Co Down, now intends to appeal her convictions.

She was among four defendants on trial at Belfast Magistrates' Court for their addresses to the 'Northern Ireland Against Terrorism' event in August 2017.

Britain First leader Paul Golding (37) and two other Englishmen were all acquitted on similar charges.

All four had been charged with using threatening, abusive or insulting words intended to stir up hatred or arouse fear.

Demonstrators gathered on the same day as a republican march to mark the introduction of internment without trial at the height of the Troubles in 1971.

Defence lawyers argued each of the accused were entitled to freedom of expression - no matter how offensive their speeches may be.

The court heard during the trial Fransen told those gathered there was no moderate version of Islam, and stated: "These people are baying for our blood."

Claiming the religion represented the biggest threat to civilisation, she went on: "Islam says every single one of you wonderful people here today deserves to be killed."

Fransen was convicted over the City Hall speech and a separate, filmed incident at a Belfast peace wall in December 2017.

On that occasion she declared that the "Islamification" of Britain will lead to similar walls to separate the two sides.

As Fransen returned to court yesterday for sentencing, her barrister revealed that the Englishwoman has now decided to make Northern Ireland her home.

In mitigation, Mark Farrell argued that both speeches occurred at "neutral" venues and not outside a mosque or place of worship.

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