Iris Robinson interviewed in the Village

Someone bought me a 6-month subscription to Village magazine a couple of years ago, and I still get it delivered every week. Mind you, if as much care is taken with the subscription list as with the sub-editing, there’s no surprise there. However, it’s a great way of keeping in touch with the main events in the Republic of Ireland, although many of the articles tend to make one uncomfortable.

I read Finola Meredith’s interview with Iris Robinson with great interest. The more fascinating aspect of it was not the portrait of Mrs Robinson, but Ms Meredith’s attitude to her devotion to God and family. I hadn’t realised that she was known in political circles as Cruella de Ville for instance. Perhaps what struck me the most was the feeling that Ms Meredith just didnt ‘get’ Mrs Robinson, and couldn’t fathom or appreciate how a Northern politician operates. Easiest thing to do then is stick her in a box:

Both politically and personally, it’s as if Iris Robinson lives in a world of polar opposites, a black-and-white universe where people are either entirely with you or absolutely against you. In many ways, that’s the typical DUP siege mentality: a single-minded (and much-vaunted) commitment to their loyal core support; a fiercely oppositional approach to all who fall outside that category. That ‘everybody hates us, we don’t care’ rhetoric only strengthens their conviction of their own righteousness. It’s a unique ideological space where the deeply conservative Iris evidently feels right at home.

  • Peking

    A sneering piece that probably was half written before the two met. Even aside from her religion and politics, Iris not being an upfront member of the sisterhood would have been enough to do for her.
    An uniformative sneer with the subject being used merely as a platform for the interviewers worldview; in short, “journalism” at its worst.

  • kensei

    “An uniformative sneer with the subject being used merely as a platform for the interviewers worldview; in short, “journalism” at its worst.”

    Or maybe, that was just what the journalist thought of her.

  • Peking

    “Or maybe, that was just what the journalist thought of her.”

    Yes, before they even met.

  • John Maynard

    Agreed, Peking, a truly pedestrian piece. One of the unwitting functions of Iris Robinson’s very existence is to disprove the notion that there is some seperate sphere of ‘Wimmin’s Politics’ in Northern Ireland. In fact, la Robinson is just as bitter and thick as any man in her position, and most other women in her position as well (think Diane Dodds, Michelle Gildernew, Ruth Patterson, Bairbre de Brun, Monica McWilliams etc.)
    However, that doesn’t suit the agenda of ‘Wimmin’s Journalism’ – so it’s completely ignored.

  • Greenflag

    ‘Easiest thing to do then is stick her in a box: ‘

    That’s right . Just make sure it’s a black and white box . Fundamentalists be they Protestant or Catholic or Islamic like their boxes black and white . That way they don’t have to think too much about the real multicoloured world which increasingly surrounds them .

  • tempertemper

    It may be harsh but I would agree that she at least appears to live in another world – people are either good or bad and the claim there is much diversity within the DUP are both examples of this. As for this sort of class of politician who believes that God sent them to do what they do – get a grip, you went into politics because you wanted to for whatever reason, trying to give yourself a divine right like medieval kings is ridiculous.

  • jimbob

    Her husband, Robbie Meredith, presented “Sunday Sequence” on BBC Radio Ulster last weekend.

  • Greenflag

    ‘As for this sort of class of politician who believes that God sent them to do what they do – get a grip,’

    One reason why USA Pres Bush did not seek the advice of his father the former President was because instead he sought the advice of a ‘higher father’ i.e God .

    50,000 Iraqi and 2,600 American deaths later the Middle East is in turmoil, oil prices at their highest level ever , Iran nukes on the way, Iraq in Civil War , and Al Quaeda still at large , and North Korea test firing inter continental missiles one has to question the advice of the ‘higher father’

    Bush jr would have done the world a favour by listening to his earthly father instead of his ‘heavenly’ one !

    The DUP listen to Paisley and Paisley listens only to God -his non catholic God .

    Cows , bulls and calves – but cattle one and all .

  • Peking

    “Her husband, Robbie Meredith, presented “Sunday Sequence” on BBC Radio Ulster last weekend.”

    That at least explains something that has had me wondering of late: how come the seemingly unwarranted meteoric rise.
    Still goes to prove it’s not what you know but who.

  • Miss Fitz

    Thanks for that piece of information. I was actually going to post something about Sunday Sequence, but I hate to feel I am always banging on about how poor Radio Ulster is. Its also got to be very difficult to stand in for someone like William Crawley who has put a stamp on that programme and set such a high standard.

    My reall issue was about how Radio Ulster appears to be so totally male dominated now, with some rare exceptions. The 2 newspaper reviewers on Sunday were both female, so perhaps the message is sinking in there?

    But during the day, a complete dearth of good female talent, and it is quite a shame really.

  • kensei

    “Yes, before they even met.”

    You don’t know that.

    It is also possible to have your preconceptions proved right.

  • DaithiO

    I get The Village delivered, it has some interesting articles of general interest, just fine for a short train/plane journey.

    Anyway what I notice is that half of the articles and all editorial pieces are written by Vincent Browne, and a large chunk of the resto of it is written by people who share his surname.

    Anyway that Iris Robinson article was IMHO a little light weight and very much in soft focus.

    So she and Pete aren’t Free Presbyterians, yeah so who cares ?

  • Setanta

    I am a loss as to why some people expected a revelation in this article – I really don’t think the journalist was going to discover that Iris Robinson was the new Mother Teresa….or had anything new to say about poltics for that matter.

  • Peking


    Then the question must be: why do the thing at all?
    I tend to agree with you as it happens.
    I’m sick to death of this sort of shite passing itself off as journalism.
    Invariably these pieces are done either as a leg-up favour to the politician, or as an excuse for the journalist to sneer.
    In both cases it is designed to play to an already-convinced audience of supporters or detractors.
    Iris Robinson wears make-up and has high hair, and the DUP see things in black and white (as if every other politician doesn’t) – big fucking deal.

  • A Non

    A rumour I heard was that she actually went into politics (edited). Just another rumour, I know, but one I have reason to believe given who told me.

    Also, her absolutism doesn’t extend to the local Catholic grammar school, where she’s been known to put in an appearance at the prize night…

  • Miss Fitz

    The reason I posted this was less about Iris and more about Finola. In one part of the article, she mentions that Iris doesnt do too many interviews, gee….. I wonder why?

    There was another piece a few weeks ago on Monica McWilliams which I feel was a worse piece of journalism than this.

    Personally, I think that these pieces wouldnt be out of place in ‘WOMAN’ magazine, or the Tatler, but in something that attempts to be a serious political journal, the approach to the subject is really ludicrous.

    There is no evidence of probing questions or any attempt to dig beneath the surface. On the issue of Clontibret, the interviewer appears content to accept that no information will be forthcoming today, without appearing to find out the why and when of this.

    I also thought it is telling about how Northern politicians are boxed for a southern readership, and found that to be quite interesting.

  • Bushmills

    The comment above by A Non (probably despicable UUP hack) should be deleted right now, if Mick doesn’t want to slapped with a nasty law suit.

  • Miss Fitz

    I was on to it straight away. It looks like a silly entry now, but it was a nasty and uncalled for one to begin with

  • Bushmills


    Good, Mick doesn’t need to be dealing with sh*t like that. Speaking from personal experience, I can honestly say that Iris Robinson is probably the most effective constituency MP in Ulster. She took Strangford on the back of hard work and constant effort on the ground. It is a testimony of the womans reputation that she polls a higher percentage of the vote in Strangford than Paisley does up here in North Antrim.

    Big whizz, she dresses well and has an interest in interior design, and Oh…My….G-d, she actually has a personal Christian faith. Sneer all you like at Iris Robinson, but Ulster would be a better place if we had more like her.

  • bertie

    “…..It’s a weird culture clash that tells you all you really need to know about the Democratic Unionist Party MP for the Strangford constituency in Co Down. ”

    It’s a wonder that she bothered with the interview.

  • Harry

    Miss Fitz: I also thought it is telling about how Northern politicians are boxed for a southern readership, and found that to be quite interesting.

    That’s how people in the south deal with their fear.

  • jimbob

    I’m also pretty sure that Mr Meredith used to write for a variety of local rags and did a very similar interview with Nigel Dodds some years ago in Fortnight. Mr M sometimes presents Arts Extra on Radio Ulster at 6.30 weeknights, and Mrs Meredith does a load of stuff on Radio Ulster as well, like the papers review on GMU. They seem to be becoming our next generation media luvvie couple, you know the stereotype – fashionably detached sceptical middle class artsy culturally rootless critics of everything.

  • Nevin

    Jimbob, perhaps the happycouple don’t do the husband and wife act:

    [i]They are a couple with two children, a boy and a girl, and they appear to be only two or three years older than my partner and me. We also have two children, a boy and a girl, so our new neighbours, although they don’t know it yet, have some potential. I’m sure that their kids would benefit from long afternoons playing with our kids, in their house of course, letting us spend some wild, crazy and debauched afternoons in Clements on Botanic Avenue. Ooooh Š let’s be daring, so add some chocolate to that latté, waiter.[/i] from “Ulster Posh” by Robbie Meredith

  • James St John Smythe

    The reason that there is an apparent dearth of female talent in journalism and politics is that women just aren’t interested politics and consequently politial journalism to the same extent as men. This website is a case in point – would people agree that the vast majority of the comments posted here are posted by men?

  • bertie


    If I had to bet I would say that the vast majority of comments are from men, but as the vast majority of us are anonymous we can’t be sure.

  • Garibaldy


    Thankfully the Women’s Coalition has been disbanded otherwise in response to your post we’d get a rant about how women were less confrontational than men and not only slugger but also the world would be a better place if the evil men just left it to the ladies to run

  • Miss Fitz

    No Garibaldy, I dont think we even would have dreamed up such a line of argument!

    James, Slugger is probably a male dominated forum, but there are very many female contributors who demsonstrate an active, intelligent and articulate view of politics.

    I may be the only female blogger at this point in time on Slugger, but that is a situation that may change in the future.

    Surely your argument is destroyed by the fact that the post was placed by a woman with both a history in politics as well as a passion for it?

  • Garibaldy

    Miss Fitz,

    I heard WC women make such an argument on numerous occasions. And similar arguments were made on the thread discussing its demise. And somebody accused me of sexism for pointing out that these people had no vision whatsoever, as was proven by their desire and pack up and go not home, but to quangoes. I just can’t remember who it was.

  • Miss Fitz

    OK, I was being slightly tongue in cheek there. I remember the thread you refer to, I wasnt posting then, and didnt have to be so polite to people……

    I must say, I never believed in the concept of a Womans party, and as I said on that thread, the only way to succeed was from within.

    Actually, its funny, I was driving my son to Newry this morning, and we were talking about Slugger, and he said that when I was to become a professional politician I wasnt let join the Club. Thats OK he said, cos now you’re standing outside the Clubhouse making fun of them and enjoying it better.


  • James St John Smythe

    Miss Fitz

    My point is certainly not about the quality of women interested or active in politics but rather the quantity. It seems to me that fewer women are interested in politics. The point about anonymity here is fair but it seems the vast majority of names are male, and women don’t or shouldn’t hide behind male psuedonyms.

  • Miss Fitz

    Oh please James, do you think we are surrounded by George Eliots here?

    Using a pseudonym is useful for some, and essential for others. I know from the mail that I receive that most of the contributors you think are women are in fact…. women. And they are using generally feminine tags. No Crying Game scenarios here.

    From my own guess I imagine the ratio is about 60:40. I try not to count the trolls, as they are just an annoyance, but I do think you are seriously underestimating both the quality and quantity of the female voice on Slugger.

  • James St John Smythe

    Miss Fitz

    I was very careful to emphasise that the quality of the female contributors was not an issue and therefore to say that I seriously underestimate the quality of the female voice is to misrepresent what I said. I am delighted to be corrected on what I did say but to criticise me for what I specifically said was not an issue is unfair.
    I am also pleased to know that there is such a significant female voice on Slugger. Those of us who aspire to marry someone more intelligent and more politically aware than ourselves live in hope.

  • Miss Fitz

    Oh Lord James dont do that…..

    I have been an abysmal failure on the romance front, and one of my friends told me recently…. Next time you go on a date, dont mention degrees, or phds, or anything like that. In fact, pretend you cant really read or write, but you can manage a Mills and Boons once a year on the beach. (And dont talk as much)

    It seems that relationships fare much better when the man is smart and the woman is not! They may be trying to create an Ireland of equals, but the shinners could never aspire to relationships of equals.

    As to the rest of the debate, I take all of your points on board, and in some ways I agree with you. The only reason I ended up posting here was a result of my constant complaining about the lack of a female voice. But I think things are improving, but its an interesting topic

  • Pete Baker

    “It seems that relationships fare much better when the man is smart and the woman is not!”

    Or rather, Miss Fitz, when the man thinks he’s smart… and the woman lets him think that. ;o)

  • Miss Fitz

    Oh Pete!!

    Is that the bit I’ve missed??

    **Note to self** must act dumber…..

  • Pete Baker

    Well, perhaps “doesn’t shatter the illusion” would have been a more diplomatic way of putting it.

  • Miss Fitz

    Yes Pete, and I am famous for diplomacy?

  • Pete Baker

    “and I am famous for diplomacy?”

    About as famous for it as I am, Miss Fitz :o)

  • James St John Smythe

    Well, how many men do we know who are married and are pretty carefully controlled by their wives? The vast majority I would have thought.
    On the subject of intelligence though, I have never understood why Slugger is so elitist. Every time I want to make a post I have to prove that I can reproduce three letters and a couple of numbers, which anyone can do? 🙂

  • darth rumsfeld

    perhaps this would have been a more interesting piece if la meredith had interviewed Iris, her husband had interviewed Peter, and their kids had interviewed the junior Robinsons

  • jimmy d.

    Is it not good from the Unionist perspective that a Souhern newspaper should give due respect to Iris Robinson as a foreigner living in a foreign place with foreign mentality. Unionists can’t have it both ways, they are not Irish, and therefore should not expect an easy ride from Irish journalists. Ireland is a very small place and the community who continually claim the identity of the oppressor should expect to be viewed critically. I think it might do Iris Robinson good to go south once in a while.