Anna Lo: Sorry still hardest word for First Minister Peter Robinson
When I gave a number of interviews on Thursday, I was angry that the First Minister had not apologised or retracted his outrageous comments about Muslims.
I was disgusted by his claims that he would only trust them to go to the shops for him.
This is demeaning and disrespectful to Muslims throughout the world. This is not the language that a First Minister should be using.
I note that Peter Robinson has issued two statements since he made his comments about Muslims, neither of which contained either an unconditional apology or a retraction.
He has made an apology in private to a group of Muslim leaders. This is not good enough for a public representative.
I believe that he must make a firm, clear and unambiguous apology in public.
There are meaningful actions that political leaders can take to tackle racism and to promote inclusion. Yet what is the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister doing to address this? They are supposed to be responsible for the production of a Racial Equality Strategy. This has been seven years in the making without any meaningful progress.
I am also concerned about the negative impact that this potentially could have upon the image of Northern Ireland. We need to be an open and outward-facing region to the world.
Our First Minister should be an ambassador in this regard, not a detractor. I am heartened by the thousands of messages of support that I have received since I spoke publicly on this issue. It gives me great pride to see so many people stand up and declare that they want to see an end to prejudice.
This is the message that I want to see coming from Northern Ireland.
I do believe that the true Northern Ireland is an open and respectful society.
Anna Lo is an Alliance MLA
Further ReadingAnna Lo: Outpouring of support for Alliance politician quitting over ongoing racist abuse