Belfast Telegraph

My view: Peter Robinson's message will turn off overseas investors

By Yvonne Ridley

I was utterly dismayed by Peter Robinson's cruel and hurtful comments; they are the sort of comments we have come to expect from racist and Islamaphobic yobs in the far right and not from the First Minister who has clearly forgotten he is supposed to represent all of the people.

It's pointless calling on him to resign but an apology to the Muslim community in Northern Ireland might be a start.

If you take his comments and substitute Muslim for Jews, blacks or immigrants, you get a feel for the hurt he has caused.

Furthermore, this is a man who is supposed to engage international leaders as First Minister.

Now he has publicly exposed his feelings for the Muslim community, how on earth can he be expected to extend the hand of friendship, hospitality or the corporate branch of government when meeting leaders from the Muslim world?

He should resign, and if he was heading a public company he would have been forced to quit by now.

The damage to overseas trade and export could badly hit Northern Ireland, which is in need of healthy, vibrant businesses. His message will turn off overseas investors.

I am a frequent visitor to Northern Ireland and have always been overwhelmed by the hospitality and respect shown to me.

I am sure that many will be repulsed by these loaded, odious comments from a man who has clearly lost the common touch.

I note that he is now saying his comments have been "misinterpreted". Well like him, English is my first language and as a journalist words are the tools of my trade; there was no doubt as to the context of his original message. Mr Robinson is going to have to eat a whole load more humble pie before Muslims can trust him again.

Yvonne Ridley is Vice President of the International Muslim Women's Union for Western Europe

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