Is Robinson feeling the pressure..?

THE DUP finally released a statement yesterday from Peter Robinson on the death of Cardinal Daly – about two-and-a-half days after the former Primate’s death. It’s carried in full below the fold. Those who remember the Robinson email published on Slugger some time ago will be aware of how badly he takes criticism, and will spot the similarities; again Robbo feels he must respond to criticism in massive detail, and blames everyone else (particularly the Press) for his lack of control of the agenda.As you can see, the DUP statement essentially contains five paragraphs. The last one contains Robinson’s condolences, while the first four are Robinson’s defence against accusations of tardiness in putting out the statement. Out of 368 total words, 120 are Robinson’s direct quotes concerning Daly.

The second paragraph is interesting. We learn that Arlene Foster released a statement instead of Robinson because he “was out of circulation”. That’s an odd phrase to use about the man supposed to be leading the country (statelet/ region/ delete as applicable). The DUP explains that this was the reason that “No statement, or suggestion to release a statement, was put to him by either OFMDFM or the party.”

Why on earth not? We know that the DUP press office and OFMDFM were contacted many, many times by reporters. So if the requests were not passed on, it appears that Robinson must have instructed them not to issue any statement on his behalf until, presumably, he was back in the loop a day or two later. “Family issues” or not, I find it surprising that a control freak like the First Minister was incommunicado. It’s a good job for the DUP that the dissidents took the weekend off.

With policing and justice back on the table today, and an election just over the horizon, I wonder if the pressure is starting to tell. And if things are indeed as urgent as Eamonn Mallie suggests, should we even consider (gasp!) cutting a beleaguered Robinson some slack while he pulls himself together?

The DUP statement in full:

Northern Ireland First Minister, Peter Robinson, said he deplored the attempt by a few elements in the press and politics to use the fact that he has been indisposed due to family issues to suggest that he had refused to release a statement on the sad passing of Cardinal Daly. Such insensitive reporting is indicative of the political baggage of those who make up such stories.

No statement, or suggestion to release a statement, was put to him by either OFMDFM or the party. The DUP issued a statement in the name of Mr Robinson’s Ministerial colleague, Arlene Foster, because they knew Mr Robinson was out of circulation.

Mr Robinson was one of those who had been at the forefront of initiating contact between the DUP and the Roman Catholic Church and indeed met the present Cardinal along with the other church leaders just before the Christmas break. A party spokesman said Mr Robinson would be last person to offend the late Cardinal’s family friends and wider community.

In a statement today Mr Robinson thanked the many hundreds who had written to him expressing sympathy and support following Iris’s announcement about her retirement. “It is comforting to receive such communications from across the community and from politicians in all the parties. It is also reassuring to know that so many others including politicians and journalists acknowledge that they too have faced similar difficulties in life and overcome them.”

Speaking of the death of Cardinal Daly Mr Robinson said,

“I want to take this opportunity to extend my sincere sympathy to the family of the late Cardinal Cahal Daly at this particularly sad time. I am acutely aware of the high esteem with which Cardinal Daly was held by many throughout the community. Although I never met him I acknowledge that his contribution to the religious and civic life of Northern Ireland was immense and spanned a very bleak period in our history. He was consistent in his opposition to the use of violence to advance political objectives. Cardinal Daly’s passing has caused immense grief for many in the community who looked to him for spiritual and theological guidance and my thoughts are also with them at this time.”


  • Stephen Blacker

    Belfast Gonzo,

    It is obvious that Peter Robinson has a lot on his mind but with him being First Minister he should have made more of an effort to address the death of Cardinal Daly who was/is highly regarded by a large section of the population. His nicely worded statement will ring a bit hollow after the delay in getting it out, especially in these days of ultra fast media technology!

    I think Peter knows that Sinn Fein must do some kind of action this time or their followers will drift away, & the 12 angry men from his own party are still snapping at his back. He has a lot of work to do to keep everyone happy and its quickly coming to a head if Eamonn Mallie is correct and he usually is.

    With the Policing part of Poilcing & Justice practically devolved with the Ombudsman and Policing Board in place, Robinson made a rod for his own back by complicating things with adding Parades into the mix. Your question, “is Robinson feeling the pressure” yeah, big time!

  • For a “leader” in politics, the one excuse that is totally unacceptable is “personal problems”.

    With the size (and cost) of the OFM’s PR machine, a formulaic statement of regret and respect should be automatic. It’s hardly an Alastair Campbell inspired “people’s princess” moment. The first two sentences of the final paragraph of the statement would have sufficed.

    Robinson has proved, once again, to be a little man in a middle-sized job which is still far too big for him. And he’s not the only mannekin in either of the rival packs.

  • willis

    It does make you wonder just how serious things are with Iris.

  • A statement from the ODMDFM would?should be a joint statement, so it is relevant that there was no push from the office – Malcolm is right, what is that huge expensive PR machine for statements on events such as this. This is a standard routine auto-reflex sort of statement – take the words, change the names, add something specific…

    Some big family issues were being addressed in the Robinson household over the holidays, so that colleagues would take the slack would be not unreasonable from a purely Party point of view.

    Politically, it would not be often that Robinson deserves some slack, but in this instance….

  • Dewi

    “Although I never met him”

    Amidst all the strangeness that’s a strange tning.

  • Dewi @ 10:02 AM:

    To spell it out: proof positive that, even in the matter of the death of an elderly gentleman, Robinson cannot raise his blinkered view above the sectarian barricade, that his need to keep his own cadre on side is more important than any hint of generosity.

    Yeah: the other lot are just as bad.

  • Dewi, it’s not an unusual event here.

  • Our Wee Ulster

    para. 3
    ‘and indeed met the present Cardinal along with the other church leaders just before the Christmas break. ‘

    last para
    ‘Although I never met him ‘

    Jesuitical, Adamsical, or statement designed by a committie

  • Lionel Hutz


    the statements refer to different cardinals.

    Everything about this statement is so badly worded and arranged. It’s – damn the press- Its not myy fault- I’m not a bigot, really, me likes Catholics – oh me and the wife are doing fine, thanks for your support – cardinal wasn’t a bad lad, rip.

    It’s cold, so cold.

  • Lionel Hutz

    “I want to take this opportunity to extend my sincere sympathy to the family of the late Cardinal Cahal Daly at this particularly sad time. ”

    this opprotuntiy – lol

    it’s almost like he has made a statement to talk about himself and the bastards in the media and now, while he’s at it, he send out a word re Cardinal Daly

  • Our Wee Ulster

    Lionel, Thanks for correction

  • danielmoran

    msg 10 Lionel Hutz
    Sorry to repeat an X Factor cliche, but you nailed it on Robinson there. Opportunity indeed. A freudian slip from Robbo there, I’ll be bound.
    As you suggest, If Robinson had n’t thought it worth his while to get in a sideswipe at his ‘enemies’ in the Press, he might not ever have sent out a statement on Cardinal Daly.
    Maybe he’s not being hemmed in by the ‘dirty dozen’ in his party after all, but actually one of them in spirit.

  • dodrade

    Has it occurred to anyone that Robinson probably didn’t think it appropriate, perhaps even hypocritical, to issue a statement regarding the death of someone who was a stranger to him?

  • regimental 1912

    Although he was against reublican violence he still allowed the church on his watch to accept murderers confessions and take part in their burials,including the suicide pack,which I understand is numero uno big sin,he was also in charge when a the child molesters were in full flow,although whether he hid the truth no one will know,just an old man with a good number has passed away at a good old age and probably had a good life doing what he thought was correct,no big deal other in the eyes of his flock.

  • dodrade @ 06:24 PM:

    Yes. Further proof of how dysfunctional is the idea, as presently applied, of an administration of NI, with a mandate to integrate the communities.

    Robinson has been around a long while, and therefore has no basis for not knowing, not recognising, not acknowledging persons of stature across the whole spectrum. What this shows is an uncouthness, Robinson’s bunker-mentality, his narrowness, his (and his party’s) inability to see beyond sectarianism. Why do I suppose his predecessor (for all his manifold faults) as First Minister and as DUP leader, had the presence, the gentility, to know how do to the right and proper thing?

  • regimental 1912 @ 07:38 PM:

    I think if you look carefully you will see the full-stop, probably down right on your keyboard. Its occasional use adds mightily to the ability of the reader to decode the message.

  • regimental 1912

    Malcolm,what is the big deal re the passing of Mr Daly,I cannot recall SF/IRA sending condolences to the family of Lord Mountbatton,get over it ffs, we are all going to go the same way eventualy only we will go up the way,lol

  • regimental 1912

    Oh dear Malcolm,clutching at straws are we not.I must remember to insert my full-stops in their proper place.Chill pill my good man,life is too short,Mr Daly is waiting on you.

  • Driftwood

    Malcolm Redfellow, a possible answer to your question at #15….

    “This Romish man of sin is now in Hell!”; to a packed Ulster Hall after the death of John XXIII in June 1963.

    How easy it is to forget ‘The Demon Doctor’. Don’t recall him at Brian Faulkners’ funeral either.

  • Lionel Hutz


    A few points. Firstly Cathal Daly, perhaps luckily, was the Primate of All-Ireland, during neither the height of the abuse nor the height of the scandal. It is unlikely that he was involved in any cover up. So until there is some evidence to the contrary, all you are doing is throwing mud. Also the idea of criticising any clergyman of any church for burying and blessing the dead is so out of kilter that I was about to simply ignore your post. That said, I doubt you point that same figure at a clergyman burying a Loyalist paramitary.

    There would be no hypocrisy in Mr Robinson sending condolences. He is doing so not as his own person but as a representative. His delay was completely out of sync with the large majority of unionist voters, judging by members of his own party, the UUP and even the warm sentiment shown
    by many unionists on this very site. Perhaps this was due to his family problems, I would have given him the benefit of the doubt had not been for the statement he did give annexed to a statement against the press. He clearly is afraid of showing any sort of kinship with the Catholic which he also represents. Then again, this is the party that won’t allow members to attend catholic funerals.

  • regimental 1912 @ 07:55 PM:

    Yeah, sure, man. If it can’t be tweeted, ‘s not worf th’ effort! Right!

    As one whose religious faith went the way of the dodo decades gone, I still feel a need for the proprieties. Or even a piece of decency and humanity, as with Dr Donne:

    The church is Catholic, universal, so are all her actions; all that she does belongs to all. When she baptizes a child, that action concerns me; for that child is thereby connected to that body which is my head too, and ingrafted into that body whereof I am a member. And when she buries a man, that action concerns me: all mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated; God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice; but God’s hand is in every translation, and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again for that library where every book shall lie open to one another. As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come, so this bell calls us all…

    No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.

    One further thing: do not lightly equate any First Minister, in an official position of respect and authority, charged with a responsibility to the whole community, to an illegal organisation.

  • regimental 1912

    Lionel,I will agree with you on one point,all people should attend Roman Catholic funerals,the more the merrier I say.I am afraid you are kidding yourself if you think he was not in charge at the time of the abuse of innocents,it has been going on for centuries.At no time did I suggest he was involved in any cover up,it is just that these men of God cuddle up closely at night and may have spoke about a few things.To non Roman Catholics he was just another pensioner passing away in the twilight of his life.I am sure his boss,The Dope on a Rope,will ensure he is looked after by old nick.

  • Driftwood @ 08:14 PM:

    The Big Mon came to speak to a TCD alumni thing at London’s Savile Club, last February.

    What impressed me was how he had mellowed. It wasn’t “all passion spent” (that ingredient was still there and fizzing), it was the geniality, the benign tolerance. Any MP, who has had “behind-the-chair” encounters with him, seems to come away with a wistful wonder at the difference between the public posturing and the human and humane private man. I believe, too, he has dealt fairly and honestly with constituents’ problems, regardless of the denomination.

    For all of that, I propose he would have known to do the right and proper thing, the duty decent to the office. Robinson clearly didn’t.

  • Driftwood

    Indeed Malcolm
    While reluctant to invoke Godwin, there was an excellent documentary last night on Albert Speer.
    A lovely man, kind, articulate and very pleasant company. Apparently he wasn’t responsible for his own past either, it was a bad time for everyone etc etc etc.
    Great dinner table manners.

    Money and old age do indeed mellow the heart.

  • Lionel Hutz


    I haven’t heard of any abuse in the 90s, certainly nothing endemic. Can you point me to where I’m wrong, I wouldn’t want to be under any misapprehensions. Please share your knowledge and wisdom.

  • regimental 1912

    Lionel,it has been common knowledge within the Roman Catholic community that abuse has been going on for years,I myself have spoken to people aged 40 and over who were abused at The so-called Brothers schools etc.I would not be surprised to see more coming out with their stories.Do you think it was only the yank priests that were up to their kneck in it.The Romans havepaid out millions in hush money,I do believe Michael Jackson was going to become a Roman Priest just before his demise.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Yes, you know a 40 year old. Do you a 20 something? Given that you are saying that this child abuse occurred between 1990 and 1996. I’m not defending the church by the way. I relatives who were abused and many more physically abused and scarred by the sexual abuse they witnessed. But this mud slinging, is always over the top. I don’t believe that every clergyman knew, even the bishops. I have this belief primarily because if the autonomy each bishop has over a diocese. It means that I don’t believe everyone could have and that there would have secrecy.

  • joeCanuck

    Crass act.
    Not wanting to offend the fundamentalists too much (although Turgon, to his credit, has paid his verbal respects), and not trying to please Catholics too much.
    Talk about falling between two stools.

  • regimental 1912

    Lionel,as in any profession there are good and bad,I would think that there are priests that are there for all the right reasons and I do believe that the younger generation are more likely to be in that category.I myself was brought up in a small village where all were friends regardless of religion.I am going back 40+ tears and the children in my own village and surrounding villages that were fathered by priests were in double figures,sometimes to locals and sometimes to housekeepers,this is not a wind up but the truth.I think it would help the Roman Catholics if the priests were allowed to marry as I see no need not to,all men have the urge now and again I would suggest.This I would say is the reason for the sharp decline in recruits.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Does anybody else think it’s kind of sad that Foster and Wilson couldn’t go to the funeral. I mean kudos for attending the Cardinals house and perhaps they don’t feel comfortable in a catholic chapel. But isn’t that kind of sad? Many Protestants attended and some tool up prominent positions in the service. Why can’t they? Is it because they are from a different protestant church? Is it the political conoctatioms?