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Alliance Party's Anna Lo will not seek re-election

Published 28/09/2015

Anna Lo has signalled her discontent with
Anna Lo has signalled her discontent with "tribal politics"

Anna Lo of the Alliance Party has confirmed she will not be seeking re-election to the Northern Ireland Assembly next year.

The Hong Kong-born politician, who previously said she was fed up with "tribal politics", has been thinking about quitting public life for some time.

She said: "People have asked me whether racism played a part in my decision. While it did not, unfortunately racism has always featured in my life, whether as a representative of ethnic minority organisations or as an MLA."

Ms Lo has represented the affluent and culturally diverse South Belfast constituency since 2007 and was the UK's first parliamentarian from the Chinese community.

The high-profile politician has been subjected to racist abuse, including expletive-laden online slurs, from loyalists angry at her party's decision to support limiting the flying of the Union flag at City Hall in Belfast in 2012.

Her office in the university area of the Belfast have been targeted several times and she has been verbally abused at an east Belfast shopping centre.

Last year, Ms Lo a mother of two grown up sons, claimed an upsurge in race hate attacks left her feeling unsafe and slammed First Minister Peter Robinson and other Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) members' defence of a controversial evangelical pastor who said he did not trust Muslims.

She has grown increasingly disillusioned with local politics.

Ms Lo added: "I had never realistically looked beyond doing two terms, given my age. It was always on the cards but I made a final decision on my future over the past year.

"When I was first elected, there was optimism around politics here, with the new power-sharing administration giving people optimism. That has faded with crisis after crisis, which is why the current talks need to tackle the reasons for that."

Ms Lo has hinted that, post politics, she may leave Northern Ireland, her home for over 40 years.

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