Belfast Telegraph

Anna Lo 'to quit politics' due to ongoing racist abuse by loyalists

Alliance MLA said she would not run again in the 2016 elections

By John Mulgrew

Alliance MLA Anna Lo has said she will quit politics due to ongoing racist abuse directed at her by loyalists.

Earlier on Thursday, Ms Lo said she was considering leaving Northern Ireland following comments made by First Minister Peter Robinson in support of a controversial pastor who denounced Islam.

The politician - who represents South Belfast and just last week ran as a candidate in the European elections - said she was "angry" at the backing given to Pastor James McConnell.

But speaking to the Guardian newspaper later on Thursday, she said would not run again in the 2016 Assembly elections.

Ms Lo said she would not seek re-election due to a litany of continual racist abuse directed at her by loyalists.

Meanwhile a heated row was reignited on Wednesday evening, as Pastor McConnell once again appeared on the BBC's Nolan Show to defend comments he made that Islam was a "heathen" doctrine which was "spawned in hell".

Peter Robinson is now at the centre of a religious storm after he defended the firebrand evangelical preacher.

There had been for an investigation into Mr Robinson's comments, to determine whether the First Minister breached the rules of Stormont's Code of Conduct.

In response to the ongoing controversy, Anna Lo said she did not feel safe living in Northern Ireland.

The MLA said she would consider leaving the country "because of what might happen after what he said".

"I do not feel safe here and I know many people who feel the same," she told the Nolan Show.

"I love this country and I chose to live here.

"I am just appalled our political leaders are coming out and making such comments."

On Thursday morning Peter Robinson attempted to diffuse the ongoing row.

He said "no part of me would want to insult or cause distress to local Muslims".

But while he moved to assure members of the Islamic community, he continued his defence of Pastor McConnell's "right to freedom of speech".

Pastor McConnell had described the Islamic faith as "Satanic" during a sermon at his Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle church in Belfast earlier this month.

He also said while there may be "good Muslims" in Britain " I don't trust them".

Speaking to the Irish News this week, Peter Robinson said Pastor McConnell didn't have "an ounce of hatred in his bones".

His comments come after the Belfast Telegraph revealed that during a Sunday evening sermon the pastor said: "Islam is heathen, Islam is Satanic, Islam is a doctrine spawned in Hell."

The 75-year-old pastor's comments sparked a police probe.

Peter Robinson said he had visited the church on several occasions and he would attend in the future.

He said there appeared to be an attempt to demonise Mr McConnell.

"There isn't an ounce of hatred in his bones," he said.

"This is someone who preaches the gospel."

Mr Robinson's comments also prompted a fresh clash with Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

In response, the Sinn Fein man and former IRA commander McGuinness, who has already accused the pastor of hate-mongering, told his partner in government to show some leadership.

Further reading

Peter Robinson: 'I wouldn't trust Muslims devoted to Sharia Law, but I would trust them to go down to the shops for me'

'Satanic Islam' sermon cleric 'surprised and touched' by Peter Robinson's support

Muslim rant sermon: Fury and hurt as First Minister Peter Robinson backs Islam row pastor McConnell 

Peter Robinson's remarks defending Pastor McConnell's sermon and by saying that he would not trust some Muslims is unhelpful 

Belfast Telegraph Digital

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph