Anna Lo

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Anna Lo
Anna Lo MLA, Alliance 2.jpg
Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly
for Belfast South
In office
7 March 2007 – 7 May 2016
Preceded by Esmond Birnie
Succeeded by Paula Bradshaw
Personal details
Born Anna Manwah Lo
(1950-06-17) 17 June 1950 (age 67)
British Hong Kong
Political party Alliance
Spouse(s) David Watson (divorced)
Gavin Millar (divorced)
Children 2
Alma mater University of Ulster
Profession Social worker
Anna Lo
Chinese 盧曼華

Anna Manwah Lo MBE (born 17 June 1950) is an Alliance Party politician in Northern Ireland.[1] She was a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) for Belfast South from 2007 to 2016, and has been the party's president since 2016.

Early life[edit]

On 17 June 1950, Lo was born in British Hong Kong. Lo is of Cantonese-Chinese ethnicity.


Political career[edit]

Lo was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly for Belfast South in the 2007 assembly election.[1] She is the first (and to date only) ethnic-minority politician elected at a regional level in Northern Ireland, the first politician born in East Asia elected to any legislative body in the United Kingdom,[2] and the first Chinese-born person to be elected to any European legislative parliament.[3]

Lo stood as an Alliance Party candidate for the Northern Ireland Assembly and was elected in Belfast South in 2007. After her re-election in 2011, Lo was appointed as the chair of the Northern Ireland Assembly's Environment Committee.[4] She used this role to influence the Local Government Bill. As a result of her amendments, the new Councils will have greater levels of openness and transparency as the audio of the main Council meetings will be recorded and Council papers will be placed online. She further improved the freedom of the press at the new Councils by ensuring that journalists and the public will be able to use social media during meetings.[5]

She was selected as the Alliance Party's candidate for the Northern Ireland constituency in the 2014 European Parliament election. She won the best ever European election performance for the party.[6]

Lo has been the target of racial abuse by Ulster loyalists[7] and did not stand for re-election as MLA in 2016.

Personal life[edit]

Lo is a social worker and former chairperson of the Northern Ireland Chinese Welfare Association. She moved from her native Hong Kong to Northern Ireland in 1974,[8] after meeting journalist David Watson. She spent her early years in the country working for the BBC and Royal Ulster Constabulary as an interpreter. In 1978, she started an English evening class for Chinese people in Northern Ireland.[9]

She was awarded an MBE in 1999 for Services to Ethnic Minorities.[7][10]

Political views[edit]

Lo has declared her preference for Irish unification. She describes herself as anti-colonial and has said the partition of Ireland was "artificial".[11] The Alliance Party played down her remarks, with fellow Alliance elected representative Geraldine Rice expressing shock at her stance.[12]

She expressed her outrage at First Minister Peter Robinson's defence of Pastor James McConnell, who was accused of making Islamophobic remarks.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Belfast politician defies racists", BBC News, 26 March 2007.
  2. ^ "I don't buy it, says Anna Lo of Alliance Party racism and ageism claims". Retrieved 22 March 2017. 
  3. ^ BBC Northern Ireland Alliance party selects Anna Lo,; accessed 9 March 2017.
  4. ^ "The Official Report". 16 May 2011. Retrieved 27 August 2015. 
  5. ^ "Lo highlights Alliance amendments to Local Government Bill (The Alliance Party of Northern Ireland)". Retrieved 27 August 2015. 
  6. ^ White, Bill. "Elections round-up: Alliance outperforms against pollster prediction". Retrieved 27 August 2015. 
  7. ^ a b c "Only Chinese-born parliamentarian in UK to quit politics over racist abuse". The Guardian. 29 May 2014. Retrieved 29 May 2014. 
  8. ^ "Growing hostility to foreigners drives Hong Kong-born Anna Lo out of Northern Ireland politics". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 22 March 2017. 
  9. ^ "Anna Lo: 'It was horrific, I had people ringing saying how dare you'". Retrieved 22 March 2017. 
  10. ^ "Ex-Alliance MLA Anna Lo: Why I'd vote for a united Ireland". Retrieved 22 March 2017. 
  11. ^ "Anna Lo: 'United Ireland' remarks 'insulting', say unionists". BBC News. 20 March 2014. Retrieved 25 April 2014.
  12. ^ "Anna Lo comments: Geraldine Rice 'shocked' by united Ireland remarks". BBC News. 23 March 2014. Retrieved 1 June 2014. 
Northern Ireland Assembly
Preceded by
Esmond Birnie
MLA for Belfast South
Succeeded by
Paula Bradshaw