Anna Lo's tears as she talks of quitting politics, and the country as well
Northern Ireland's only politician from an ethnic minority background broke down in tears as she spoke of her fear at the current number of racist attacks and said she is quitting politics and may leave the country.
South Belfast Alliance MLA Anna Lo said that she was alarmed at the recent spike in the number of racist incidents – up to three every day.
She revealed that she would not seek re-election to Stormont at the next Assembly elections in 2016 and was considering leaving Northern Ireland.
Ms Lo moved to Northern Ireland from London in 1974 with her husband who was from Belfast.
She chaired the Chinese Welfare Association for several years before entering politics in 2007, winning an Assembly seat for the Alliance Party in South Belfast and becoming the only Chinese-born elected politician in Europe.
She has previously spoken about suffering intimidation and had to get extra security at her home during the flag protests.
Yesterday she broke down in tears as she revealed she was now scared to walk down the street.
She has urged Peter Robinson with withdraw his comments in support of Pastor McConnell. "I am very angry about this and I think he really should come out to apologise and retract his words," she said. "Those are not the words of a First Minister of a country.
"You do not say such condescending things about a whole community that they are only fit to go to a shop for him, to give him the right change. That's ridiculous."
Ms Lo explained why she was so angry. "I am angry because in the last few months I have seen such a dramatic increase of racist attacks on ethnic minority communities here – we are talking two to three incidents a day," she said.
"We have a racial equality strategy in the making for the last seven years, still not published.
"I have talked to communities on the ground to say that we must do something, we must work with local communities to address this issue. The groups are telling me they have no resources to do this.
"Then when a pastor makes such outrageous comments about the Muslim community, we have politician after politician from the DUP coming out in support of him.
"Now we have the First Minister of our country saying he supports him. What sort of place are we now living in?"
Ms Lo said she now fears for her safety. "I do feel vulnerable walking along the street because I know ethnic minorities have been attacked," she said, breaking down into tears.
Belfast Lord Mayor Mairtin O Muilleoir was among hundreds expressing their support for Ms Lo on Twitter yesterday.
He tweeted from New York: "Anna Lo is a hero of Belfast, her story of achievement in a diverse Belfast us exactly the sort of story New Yorkers wish to hear. #StayAnna".
Meanwhile, an Emergency Rally Against Racism to express solidarity with the Alliance MLA is set to take place outside Belfast City Hall tomorrow at midday.
The event, organised on Facebook by Strabane man Lorcan Mullen, has attracted more than 1,000 supporters so far.