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Jolene Bunting: I don't believe Jayda Fransen or I did anything wrong

Belfast councillor Jolene Bunting. Picture by Mal McCann

THE councillor who arranged a visit of far-right politician Jayda Fransen to Belfast City Council - during which she was filmed in the lord mayor's chair - has denied any wrongdoing.

Independent representative Jolene Bunting said she would cooperate with an investigation by the council.

An inquiry was launched after Britain First deputy leader Ms Fransen posted a video on the group's Facebook page criticising charges brought against her for alleged hate speeches.

The video shows a camera panning from Ms Bunting's council nameplate to Ms Fransen, who is sitting in the Lord Mayor's chair.

Earlier, Ms Fransen (31) had been told that she would face trial for charges connected with alleged hate speeches. She denies the charges.

Belfast City Council said it was "aware of the video post and is currently looking into the circumstances".

The usual procedures for those wishing to film or use council premises were not followed, the council said, adding it had received no request "nor were we made aware of these plans."

Ms Bunting said the video was not meant to be malicious adding that it was recorded "on the spur of the moment".

"I didn't think anything of it all. We went up and I did what I usually do with anyone who comes into City Hall, I offered if they would like to put the robes on," she said.

"I don't know if there's maybe an issue with the videoing in the council chamber but I know that I have taken many of my family members and my friends into the chamber.

"I think this is about demonising Jayda Fransen and demonising Britain First as a political party so they don't have the opportunity to run in Northern Ireland."

Ms Bunting added that she would cooperate with the inquiry.

"I don't believe I did anything wrong and I don't believe Jayda did either," she said.

Deputy lord mayor and Ulster Unionist councillor Sonia Copeland welcomed the investigation.

"Jayda Fransen’s actions were disrespectful to the office of lord mayor and to the city council itself," she said.

"This incident is rightly being investigated and steps must be taken to ensure there is no repetition."

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