Anna Lo, the Chinese-Irish president of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI), a liberal unionist grouping in the north-east of the country, has once again raised the ire of mainstream British unionism by condemning the DUP as the “most racist party” in the Six Counties (or, indeed, the Thirty-Two Counties). In a recent high profile interview with the Belfast Telegraph newspaper she also expressed her continued support for the reunification of Ireland:
“The politician, who faced a unionist backlash when she first voiced such sentiments in 2014, is adamant that Irish unity remains the way forward, and now she has spelt out the reasons for her stance.
“If there was a referendum, I would vote for a united Ireland under the right conditions. Ireland is one island. I don’t think we should have a border to divide an island,” the Alliance president said.
“I would like to see Ireland united, and I think it is inevitable. I take a wider world view on the issue. I am against colonialism. I welcomed Hong Kong being returned to China in 1997. When both Germany and Vietnam were united, despite all the foreboding, the sky didn’t fall down.”
The former South Belfast MLA described the DUP as “the most racist party in Northern Ireland”. She said racism was more extensive and vicious than when she first arrived in Belfast in 1974.
She said: “Over the years, many of their councillors and MLAs have made negative comments about ethnic minorities. Plenty of times they haven’t condemned racist incidents in their areas. Sectarianism and racism are two sides of the one coin. If people have always been sectarian, it’s very easy for them to be racist.”
Ms Lo said while she was “very complementary” to DUP First Minister Arlene Foster at the start “I’ve been less impressed with her as time goes on”.
As if proof were needed of where the formerly extremist Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) stands on the political spectrum, Arlene Foster has also taken to the press, though not on behalf of any progressive or liberal cause. Instead she condemns the actions of the northern Equality Commission and its legal action against a bakery in Belfast, run by evangelical Protestants, which refused to meet the specific requirements of a gay customer:
“I think they need to have a long hard look at how they work with faith communities in Northern Ireland and instead of accepting the metropolitan liberal elite definition of equality they need to look at what real equality is and look at the faith communities in Northern Ireland and that is something they haven’t been doing.”
Meanwhile, on the issue of gay marriage itself:
“Mrs Foster insisted her party was not anti-gay, but said the torrent of online abuse she received from LGBT activists demanding a law change had made it even less likely for the DUP to support their calls.
“Some of the abuse that is directed at me and colleagues online is very, very vicious and I think if activists want to have a conversation about where they are coming from do they seriously think they are going to influence me by sending me abuse?” she asked.
“No, they are not going to influence me by sending me abuse – in fact they are going to send me in the opposite direction and people need to reflect on that.”
Mrs Foster said her willingness to use the petition of concern voting tool reflected her party’s strong determination to protect the traditional definition of marriage.”
Ah yes, the familiar rhetorical sleight of hand deployed by bigots everywhere. We don’t hate homosexuals, just homosexuality. Which is about as likely as those who claim not to hate Irish-speakers, just the language they speak.