Belfast Telegraph

Complaints roll in over city councillor's 'offensive' message

By Andrew Madden

Northern Ireland's local government watchdog has been contacted more than 80 times over a "racist, sectarian and offensive" tweet by a Belfast City councillor.

It is understood many of those who contacted the Local Government Commissioner for Standards wanted to lodge formal complaints against Independent councillor Jolene Bunting, who posted the tweet last week.

The post depicts two frogs, one wearing a Union flag and the other wearing an Irish tricolour.

The frog with the tricolour is crying, holding a pint of Guinness and wearing a hat that reads: "Please be patient I have famine." Accompanying the picture is the line: "C'mon Paddy, EU can leave too".

The cartoon frog in the picture, known as 'Pepe', was adopted years ago by far-right social media trolls to target, among others, autistic children.

Ms Bunting later said the tweet was simply a reference to the Republic leaving the EU and was not meant to cause offence to autistic children or make light of the famine. Calling the fallout "ridiculous", she took aim at "triggered leftists" for condemning the tweet, and singled out Sinn Fein in particular.

Several of the 80 individuals who contacted the Local Government Commissioner for Standards are Ms Bunting's fellow councillors, spanning a range of political parties.

Sinn Fein council group leader Deirdre Hargey called the post "racist, sectarian and offensive", while Alliance's Emmet McDonough-Brown branded it "not only crass but racist and sectarian".

The DUP's Dale Pankhurst said the tweet was "appalling and wrong".

Last month, Ms Bunting's defence of a racist leaflet drop in south Belfast as "information" caused heated exchanges in City Hall.

Belfast Telegraph

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