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.”