Deputy Leader of Britain First, Jayda Fransen, who received international attention after Donald Trump retweeted her anti-Muslim videos, has arrived in Belfast to stand trial for inciting “religious hatred”.
Jayda Fransen appeared at a ‘Northern Ireland Against Terrorism’ rally in Belfast on August 6 last year and gave a speech to around 50 local loyalists telling them that “Ulster is, in my opinion, the last line of defense for Britain”.
She criticized Islam, urged them to protest against any mosques built in the province and vowed to “get our bloody flag back up to the top of that building” - a reference to Belfast City Hall which only flies the Union Jack on a part-time basis.
In November the 31-year-old was arrested at her London home for using allegedly threatening and abusive language during the speech; Britain First leader Paul Golding said his colleague had been arrested for “no bloody reason” but the Police Service of Northern Ireland has since charged him as well.
On a separate visit in December to a Belfast peace wall - separating working class republican and loyalist communities - she is alleged to have made further anti-Islam remarks, which she has also been charged for.
Fransen’s attorney told the judge his client was pleading not guilty on both counts and the trial was set for 6 April for her August remarks; a trial date for her December remarks will be fixed on January 26.
Fiyaz Mughal from the anti-Islamophbia charity, Tell Mama, told IrishCentral, "given that she may well be in breach of her bail conditions that she may get anything between 3 months – 6 months as a sentence. However, as in every case, we need to assume innocence until proven guilty.”
Fransen made no comment during the proceedings but later posted a video on the Britain First NI’s Facebook page in which she said, “Free speech appears to be dead in our great nation, but believe you me I will not rest till we have our freedoms and our rights back. God bless you all! More updates shortly!”
UPDATE: Jayda gives an update on the latest court dramas from Belfast City Hall 🇬🇧Posted by Britain First NI on Tuesday, January 9, 2018
The video was shot in Belfast’s ornate council chambers and shows Fransen bedecked in the robes of the city’s Lord Mayor and sitting in her chair.
It’s understood that the Fransen’s entry into the chamber was facilitated by independent unionist councillor Jolene Bunting but the video was shot without permission from the council.
A spokesperson for Belfast City Council said, “Council has been made 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. We received no request nor were we made aware of these plans.”
Alliance Councillor Sian O’Neill told Belfast Live, “It is an abuse by Councillor Bunting of her privilege to access the robes, the chamber and the Lord Mayor’s chair to create a false perception of a link between the Council and Britain First, and Alliance has contacted the Chief Executive to investigate it.”