Alliance MLA 'embarrassed' by photographs
The Alliance Party’s Paula Bradshaw has apologised for dressing up as B.A. Baracus from The A-Team.
The South Belfast MLA admitted she was “deeply embarrassed” after Sunday Life contacted her about photographs that had appeared on social media.
Ms Bradshaw said the pictures were taken at house party in 2010.
Her costume featured a black skull cap wig, a gold chain and a drawn-on beard.
The 47-year-old is seen standing and sitting beside her husband Ian Parsley, a former Alliance Party European election candidate, who is wearing a basketball-style vest top.
“I am deeply embarrassed I ever thought such an inappropriate costume was a good idea and I apologise unreservedly,” Ms Bradshaw said in a statement to this newspaper.
“While it was over a decade ago, it was a serious lapse of judgement. It does not reflect my views then and does not now.
“I am proud to stand on my record of tackling the very real issues of racial discrimination and prejudice faced by ethnic minority people here and abroad every day.
“I will not be diverted from continuing to take concrete action to support minority communities, assist refugees and oppose racial injustice in all its forms.”
Ms Bradshaw also took to social media yesterday to apologise for wearing the costume. She received dozens of messages of support on Facebook, many saying she had nothing to apologise for.
She is the latest in a long line of politicians to be mortified by fancy dress pictures from her past.
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau apologised and said it was a “dumb thing to do” after photos emerged of him in ‘brownface’ make-up at a costume party in 2001.
The Mr T photos are the second political embarrassment for Ms Bradshaw this year.
She made news headlines in July after she cancelled a family holiday to Italy following a backlash as the Stormont guidelines at the time advised against all but essential foreign travel.
Ms Bradshaw, Alliance’s health spokesperson, said at the time: “Like many people, I have a holiday booked, in my case to Italy. I should have been
clearer when I said I would operate within the guidance. That obviously includes not travelling if the regulations and guidance at the time state I should not do so. That is currently the case.”
The MLA entered politics in the 2010 general election, unsuccessfully standing as a candidate for the short-lived alliance between the Ulster Unionists and Conservatives.
In October that year the mother-of-two resigned her UUP membership, saying she couldn’t stay in a party which was “sexist, homophobic and sectarian”.
After joining Alliance, she was elected to Belfast City Council as a member for Balmoral, resigning her seat when she was elected to the Assembly in 2016.
During an Assembly debate on Stormont’s racial equality strategy last week, she spoke of the importance of concentrating on and giving attention to race relations.
“I represent South Belfast, which is noted as the most culturally, ethnically and socially diverse constituency in Northern Ireland,” she said.
“It is that diversity that makes it all the more enriched and prosperous, in all senses of the word.
“Therefore, the frustration for many, not least the minority ethnic community, is that the issue of race relations does not appear to receive the attention and concentration of effort that it deserves and requires.”