What kind of democracy is it when an elected councillor cannot speak the truth for and on behalf of their constituents?
The stark fact is it is no longer a democracy. Jolene Bunting, was democratically elected to Court Ward (Great Shankill), Belfast, in 2014. In September 2018 she was suspended from Belfast City Council by a government QUANGO “The Northern Ireland Local Government Commissioner For Standards” for four months. (Interim Adjudication hearing Press release September 18, 2018)
She appealed to the High Court immediately but it was only three months later in January 2019 after three quarters of her four month ‘sentence’ had been served the High Court got round to suspending her QUANGO suspension so she could return to her duties at Belfast Council. She had a High Court hearing on the 21st She still has a High Court Appeal hearing taking place on January 30th.
But that’s not the end of it, the hassle goes on
On her return to the Belfast City Council Chamber on the 7th January she took part in a debate discussing a motion on the ‘Councillors’ Code of Conduct’ in which she was censored and silenced once more. This time by the Chairwoman for raising issues and facts directly pertinent to the debate. You can view the video here
If anything demonstrates the corrosive effect of this ban on the democratic process this incident alone proves it. The council cut of their live feed of the meeting so her voice and the voice of her constituents could not be heard.
There is so much wrong with the the whole affair. The way a style of quasi law and censorship is being applied to any lawfull, legitimate but contentious disagreement or dissent from a neo Liberal left wing view of the world.
It is as dangerous as it is unjust.
- Here is just one extract from the interim injunction which should be ringing alarm bells all over Great Britain and Northern Ireland; “The Acting Commissioner viewed the webcast of the Council meeting of 3 January 2018 where Councillor Bunting can be seen and heard to make specific reference to Islam and the Quran, apparently in the context of ‘problematic sections’ of society. Apart from Cllr Buntings denial, you have to ask yourself; so what if she is making references to aspects of an ideology she wishes to alert her constituents and Belfast City Council to. That’s her job!
- In politics, claims, counter claims and policy development should be the subject of debate, robust at times, after which a vote is taken and a policy adopted or rejected by the electorate. Any argument, provided it is not criminal in any way, should be allowed and be subject to civil debate.
- In the UK we have the principle of innocent until proven guilty, and yet here we have a Government QUANGO able to impose a ‘sentence’ of suspension based on an interim adjudication, with prima facie evidence, without guilt or innocence having been proven.
- When the High Court unconditionally lifted Cllr Jolene Buntings suspension it meant she could resume her duties and responsibilities in full with no equivocation. Yet in the Belfast City council chamber we see the chairwoman denying Cllr Jolene Bunting’s right to speak in defiance of the High Court ruling. There is a case for the prosecution of the Chairwoman for contempt of court.
- The Belfast City Councillors making the complaints as evidence to the commission were a crucial part Cllr Buntings suspension by the Deputy Commissioner’s ‘Court’ and subsequent ‘sentencing’. Are we creating QUANGO law here detached from the defendants right to trial by a jury of their peers. This is an elected representative after all. If fellow councilors of different political views are able to say what legal policies or views Councillor Bunting may hold and be subject to complaint then what is the point of being elected. She and her constituents will have been silenced then a de-facto one party state will have arrived. Displacing true democracy and free speech.
- Last but certainly not least. Councillor Jolene Bunting is one of a growing number of UK’s political dissidents who dare to challenge the system as it imposes alien, anti-democratic ideologies, practices and quasi-law upon them and silences them if they speak out and encourage others to do so about legitimate concerns which do not suit The System’s narrative
This case has enormous implications for freedom of expression, free speech and democracy for every elected representative in the UK. Who’s laws should we follow? The judiciary and the courts or quasi lawful judgements from unelected political appointees operating in QUASI Autonomous Non Governmental Organisation’s (QUANGO’s)
Help Cllr Jolene Bunting fight this CENSORSHIP, please donate towards her legal fund @ donorbox.org/legal_fund