UK
29/05/2014 11:34 BST | Updated 29/05/2014 11:59 BST

Anna Lo, China-Born Northern Irish Parliamentarian, 'Considering Leaving The Country' Over Race Abuse

Niall Carson/PA Archive
Anna Lo for the centrist Alliance Party has said she will not seek re-election to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2016, and is even considering leaving the county

The UK's sole China-born parliamentarian is to quit at the next election because of the intimidation and abuse she receives.

Anna Lo, a Northern Irish assembly member for the centrist Alliance Party has said she will not seek re-election in 2016, and is even considering leaving the county.

Her comments to the Guardian and the BBC come on the back of a row over comments made by a Belfast pastor that Muslims were "satanic", who was defended by First Minister Peter Robinson.

"Anymore of this talk and I would leave this country," Lo told the BBC. "I do not feel safe here and I know many people who feel the same."

His comments could "escalate even more of the racist tension," and make her more likely to leave, she said.

"I love this country and I chose to live here. I am just appalled our political leaders are coming out and making such comments."

In an interview with the Guardian on Thursday, Lo said she herself was targeted during the European elections by a loyalist mob at an east Belfast shopping centre.

"They started hurling abuse at me," she said. "Even when I got inside my car there was a young girl who climbed out of the wound-down window of a parked car and started shouting vile things at me. If I hadn't decided to act quickly and get out of there I don't know what would have happened to me," Lo said.

She is concerned race hate is on the rise, following the comments of Pastor McConnell of the Metropolitan Tabernacle in north Belfast. The preacher is being investigated by police for the comments he made a fortnight ago at a sermon, telling the congregation "Islam is heathen, Islam is satanic, Islam is a doctrine spawned in hell."

""In the last few weeks there have been two to three racist incidents per day in Belfast and other parts of Northern Ireland. To support a lunatic who makes remarks like that is adding fuel to the flames in Northern Ireland," Lo said.

"I've had enough of the inability of this society and its political leaders to escape from the past. And what's worse is the rising racism in our community. I have been living here for 40 years, and this has forced me out of politics and made me think about getting out of Northern Ireland altogether.

"So, what must immigrants who have come here only recently think about this place?"

A police spokesman said on Thursday: "No arrests have been made. Inquiries are continuing."

On Wednesday Robinson defended Pastor McConnell and said, "there isn't an ounce of hatred in his bones".

Robinson said he would not trust Muslims either, particularly those who are "fully devoted to Sharia law, I wouldn't trust them for spiritual guidance," but he would trust them to "go down to the shops".