Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Councillor Jolene Bunting's conduct being investigated

Councillor Jolene Bunting pictured at a Free Tommy Robinson rally at Belfast City Hall. Credit: Brendan Harkin
Councillor Jolene Bunting pictured at a Free Tommy Robinson rally at Belfast City Hall. Credit: Brendan Harkin

By Andrew Madden, Local Democracy Reporter

The Commissioner for Standards has confirmed an investigation is underway into the conduct of embattled Belfast councillor Jolene Bunting.

Last week, multiple City Hall sources said the Greater Shankill representative “will be disqualified” from standing in next year's local elections due to a string of controversial incidents in the past 12 months.

More the 100 formal and informal complaints have been filed against the former TUV rep with the Local Government Commissioner for Standards recently for public far-right displays and "offensive and sectarian" social media posts.

This week, the Commissioner’s office confirmed an investigation into Jolene Bunting’s conduct is underway.

"The Local Government Commissioner for Standards has received a number of complaints in relation to material posted on social media by a councillor from Belfast City council,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

“The issue has now been referred for investigation.”

It is understood that, once the Commissioner's office has completed their investigation and its accompanying report, adjudication proceedings will take place before the end of the year.

One well-informed City Hall source stated that while “the timing may be bad, given the bonfire season coming up and the limited council meetings and so forth over the summer, it has to happen”.

“Her position has just become more and more untenable in recent months, what with these rallies every other week and the Britain First links,” they added.

“It has to be done and it’s the right decision. It’s one everyone hates to see happen, but that’s what rules are for - there is an expected level of behaving in City Hall."

Pacemaker 09/06/2018
A rally at Belfast City hall on Saturday in support of Tommy Robinson, the founder of the far-right English Defence League, who was jailed for 13 months for contempt of court after broadcasting an hour-long video over Facebook from outside Leeds crown court.
Pic Pacemaker
Pacemaker 09/06/2018 A rally at Belfast City hall on Saturday in support of Tommy Robinson, the founder of the far-right English Defence League, who was jailed for 13 months for contempt of court after broadcasting an hour-long video over Facebook from outside Leeds crown court. Pic Pacemaker
A rally at Belfast City hall on Saturday in support of Tommy Robinson, the founder of the far-right English Defence League, who was jailed for 13 months for contempt of court after broadcasting an hour-long video over Facebook from outside Leeds crown court. Pic Pacemaker
A rally at Belfast City hall on Saturday in support of Tommy Robinson, the founder of the far-right English Defence League, who was jailed for 13 months for contempt of court after broadcasting an hour-long video over Facebook from outside Leeds crown court. Credit: Pacemaker
Pacemaker 09/06/2018 A rally at Belfast City hall on Saturday in support of Tommy Robinson, the founder of the far-right English Defence League, who was jailed for 13 months for contempt of court after broadcasting an hour-long video over Facebook from outside Leeds crown court. Pic Pacemaker
Pacemaker 09/06/2018 A rally at Belfast City hall on Saturday in support of Tommy Robinson, the founder of the far-right English Defence League, who was jailed for 13 months for contempt of court after broadcasting an hour-long video over Facebook from outside Leeds crown court. Pic Pacemaker
Pacemaker 09/06/2018 A rally at Belfast City hall on Saturday in support of Tommy Robinson, the founder of the far-right English Defence League, who was jailed for 13 months for contempt of court after broadcasting an hour-long video over Facebook from outside Leeds crown court. Pic Pacemaker
Pacemaker 09/06/2018 A rally at Belfast City hall on Saturday in support of Tommy Robinson, the founder of the far-right English Defence League, who was jailed for 13 months for contempt of court after broadcasting an hour-long video over Facebook from outside Leeds crown court. Pic Pacemaker
Pacemaker 09/06/2018 A rally at Belfast City hall on Saturday in support of Tommy Robinson, the founder of the far-right English Defence League, who was jailed for 13 months for contempt of court after broadcasting an hour-long video over Facebook from outside Leeds crown court. Pic Pacemaker
Pacemaker 09/06/2018 A rally at Belfast City hall on Saturday in support of Tommy Robinson, the founder of the far-right English Defence League, who was jailed for 13 months for contempt of court after broadcasting an hour-long video over Facebook from outside Leeds crown court. Pic Pacemaker
Pacemaker 09/06/2018 A rally at Belfast City hall on Saturday in support of Tommy Robinson, the founder of the far-right English Defence League, who was jailed for 13 months for contempt of court after broadcasting an hour-long video over Facebook from outside Leeds crown court. Pic Pacemaker
Pacemaker 09/06/2018 A rally at Belfast City hall on Saturday in support of Tommy Robinson, the founder of the far-right English Defence League, who was jailed for 13 months for contempt of court after broadcasting an hour-long video over Facebook from outside Leeds crown court. Pic Pacemaker
Pacemaker 09/06/2018 A rally at Belfast City hall on Saturday in support of Tommy Robinson, the founder of the far-right English Defence League, who was jailed for 13 months for contempt of court after broadcasting an hour-long video over Facebook from outside Leeds crown court. Pic Pacemaker
Pacemaker 09/06/2018 Counter protesters at A rally at Belfast City hall on Saturday in support of Tommy Robinson, the founder of the far-right English Defence League, who was jailed for 13 months for contempt of court after broadcasting an hour-long video over Facebook from outside Leeds crown court. Pic Pacemaker
Pacemaker 09/06/2018 Counter protesters at A rally at Belfast City hall on Saturday in support of Tommy Robinson, the founder of the far-right English Defence League, who was jailed for 13 months for contempt of court after broadcasting an hour-long video over Facebook from outside Leeds crown court. Pic Pacemaker
Pacemaker 09/06/2018 A rally at Belfast City hall on Saturday in support of Tommy Robinson, the founder of the far-right English Defence League, who was jailed for 13 months for contempt of court after broadcasting an hour-long video over Facebook from outside Leeds crown court. Pic Pacemaker

Another source said even council officials themselves have complained about Jolene Bunting on several occasions in the council year just past.

Ms Bunting has been widely criticised by other Northern Ireland politicians and community groups, as well as Belfast Islamic Centre, since the beginning of the year due to her public support and links to far-right organisations, including Britain First and Generation Identity.

GI, a European-wide anti-immigration movement, has been present at the last two “UK Freedom Rallies” outside City Hall in the past four weeks, with another event scheduled for July 14 - in the wake of Bonfire Season.

Councillor Bunting has helped organise all such rallies to date in Belfast, which have seen crowds of hundreds of counter-demonstrators, citizens and far-right protesters descend upon City Hall in a public face-off in each occasion.

When contacted this week, Jolene Bunting said she “is not, or have I ever been, a member of Generation Identity”.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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