By lunchtime, doubts from across the political spectrum that Peter Robinson could survive hadn’t hardened into clear calls for him to quit. Quite a lot depends on whether he can find a temporary platform to stand on this afternoon when the talks with his lawyers are over. While he insists he will contest unsupported allegations in Spotlight, he would be well advised in his own interest to withdraw any threat to sue the BBC. Politicians who sue in such circumstances seldom win the verdict of their peers and public opinion.
The DUP silence is loud but not yet deafening. According to Newsletter editor Dale Templeton many of the details of the money affair were new to Peter himself, so he will need time to reply. This I guess will also affect the timing of a meeting with DFM McGuinness, however insistent are Sinn Fein’s demands. In a Talkback discussion ( up soon in BBC iPlayer), Templeton and Belfast Media chief Mairtin O muilleoir agreed that revelations probably arent over and journalists will follow the money to see if the trail exposes a wider pattern of close relationships between developers and politicians. Templeton echoed the verdict of the morning, that Iris should resign from all offices immediately
Im amazed that Iris is still holding to her post and hasnt resigned with immediate effect and/or hasnt been suspended by the party.
O Muilleor reflected what is probably the present Sinn Fein position that they would like Peter to survive and would expect him to fight.
People like a fighter but they also like a bit of contrition. The Robinsons arent big on that. If he doesnt survive I dont think the institutions will survive.
Templeton pointed to the very significant but overlooked ( though not by Slugger) statement of Lord Morrow, that the devolution of justice and policing will not happen in the life of this Assembly. This probably set the scene for yesterdays failed talks between Robinson and McGuinness. Although partly masked by the Robinson scandal, this is surely the big question. My own hunch is that while the survival of the Assembly is so intertwined with Peter’s position, the verdict on the Assemblys future will be delayed. Update. The cancellation of tomorrow’s Sinn Fein executive meeting in Dublin is good news.
Why are so many overlooking the one heartening bit of news – decommissioning by the UDA. If they think the process is worth a candle, who are the main parties to disagree?
Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London