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I suffered constant racial abuse, says Lo

MLA speaks out at Lib Dem conference

By Sam Lister

Belfast politician Anna Lo has told how she had suffered racial abuse " day in, day out" in the city.

The Alliance Party MLA claimed the province missed out on the diversification the rest of Western Europe had gone through and said racist attacks had spiralled in recent years.

Ms Lo, who was the first Chinese politician to be elected in Europe, was addressing the Liberal Democrat autumn conference in Brighton yesterday.

She said: "Northern Ireland was a very insular place during the Troubles and did not undergo the same diversification as other parts of Western Europe.

"This has happened all of a sudden in the past 10 years. This has been a very positive experience for Northern Ireland, but sadly a minority thinks differently and racist abuse and violence have spiralled in recent years.

"I have been unfortunate enough to experience some of the verbal abuse myself and I dealt with the consequences of it day in, day out while working for the Chinese Welfare Association.

"My own constituency of South Belfast has a particularly unfortunate reputation for racist violence. That's why I was so proud to have headlines proclaiming my city as the capital of racism replaced by headlines telling the world that Belfast was the first city in Europe to elect a Chinese legislator."

Alliance was at the conference to tell delegates in its sister party how it had run its recent election campaign. But party leader David Ford rounded on the DUP and Sinn Fein for doing "everything they possibly could" to avoid making any decisions.

The MLA for South Antrim said: "To avoid a breakdown in that fragile consensus between them (Sinn Fein and the DUP), they are prepared to go to any lengths to avoid making difficult decisions.

"The executive's watchword is consult, consult, then let's just consult a little bit more because otherwise we would be forced into making a decision.

"With the other four parties in Government, Alliance is the only party challenging that directionless executive.

"The incompetence of some of our rivals is startling. I don't want to single anyone out, but I must make an exception for the Ulster Unionists. The self-proclaimed natural party of Government that led Northern Ireland for 50 years is probably now the most inept excuse for a political party anywhere in the world. Its deputy leader says it is leading the opposition while their leader sits in the cabinet.

"But bizarre as that is, that's the system that was foisted upon us at the time.

"People of Northern Ireland may think its wonderful that Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness are sharing power and on one level it is. It's great that those tired old war mongers are finally working together rather than stoking the fires of hatred.

"The chemistry between the two of them is bizarre, but it seems to be real. They are actually known as the Chuckle Brothers."

Belfast Telegraph


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