Alliance Euro-candidate Anna Lo: Irish unity furore won't cost me votes
Alliance Euro-candidate Anna Lo has admitted being "flabbergasted" by the furore over her controversial Irish unity remarks.
But she added she did not believe her comments would cost the party votes from unionists – and that she had not come in for criticism on the doorsteps.
Ms Lo called the partition of Ireland "artificial" and argued that a united Ireland would be "better placed economically, socially and politically".
Launching her bid to win one of the province's three European Parliament seats yesterday, she said: "I was flabbergasted by all the hype. I am not a nationalist. I am not a unionist. I am Alliance.
"If I had been a nationalist I would have joined Sinn Fein or the SDLP. The fact I joined Alliance speaks volumes."
Instead, she focused on the need to challenge Northern Ireland's "village" attitude and turn the province into a more outward, open-minded place.
"Northern Ireland has a tendency to be insular. We need to show the world, and ourselves, what we are capable of," she added.
The South Belfast MLA appeared with half of the party's local government candidates at a joint event in Belfast – and spoke of her hopes for the 11 new councils.
As chair of the Assembly's environment committee, which is overseeing the merger of the 26 existing councils into 11, she said that after all the delays over many years people were glad to see the new councils become a reality.
Alliance leader David Ford said the party was fielding a total of 80 candidates for the councils – the highest figure since the late 1970s – and predicted it would increase its total of 44 seats at the last election.
Last month Anna Lo said she regarded the partition of Ireland as "artificial" and a united Ireland would be "better placed economically, socially and politically". Her interview in the Irish News provoked a storm of protest with unionists arguing Alliance's support for the principle of consent had been called into question