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Jolene Bunting quits TUV after not being picked to stand

By Noel McAdam

A TUV councillor who posted sectarian messages on Facebook as a teenager has resigned from the party.

In 2014 Jolene Bunting became the first TUV councillor to be elected to Belfast City Council.

Shortly after this she was forced to apologise after sectarian rants she posted online as a teenager resurfaced. Last month she told of her "heartbreak" that these posts were being "cast up" by members of her party to prevent her running as a candidate in North Belfast.

But yesterday she announced that she had resigned and will continue on Belfast City Council as an Independent member.

She said: "It is with a very heavy heart that I must announce that I have resigned from TUV with immediate effect.

"I will remain on Belfast City Council as an Independent member, I will also continue to serve the people of Court DEA (Greater Shankill)"

In a Facebook post in January, Ms Bunting said officials would not allow her to stand because she posted a sectarian message online several years ago.

She said at the time that she had some "hard thinking to do" and that officers had "made it very clear that I do not have the support of the party".

She said: "I can understand Republican trolls using these screenshots, of silly things I said as a teenager (and have since apologised for).

"However, it is totally heartbreaking to have these posts cast up by members of my own party, as an excuse, along with others, not to provide the people of North Belfast with the opportunity to vote for a TUV candidate."

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