After the brutality, the sword of Damocles hangs over Peter Robinson…

As Peter Robinson is being forced to ponder where he goes from here his wife Iris is preparing to officially exit from the Assembly. The procedural cutting of Iris’s link with the Assembly will necessitate a letter to Speaker William Hay.

Inside the DUP an assessment is being made of what damage has already been done as a result of the ongoing allegations being hurled at the Robinsons.In the frankest exposition of his record as a husband and public representative on this site Mr Robinson confronted and categorically denied vicious historic rumours that he beat his wife.

He rejected this allegation in the most trenchant terms possible. When bluntly asked had he ever accepted backhanders from property developers or businessmen in his role as a public representative the First Minister rigorously defended his integrity.

My line of questioning to Mr Robinson was the most brutal cross examination of the private life of a politician in the course of my thirty years as a journalist. I have no reticence in saying, on the basis of what Peter Robinson said during his painful experience, he emerged with an enhanced reputation.

No one has ever been asked at Peter Robinson’s level in public life ” Did you ever beat your wife?” He had no choice but say yes or no. He stood up and took the question manfully.

If he is a liar any one of his three children is in a position to set the record straight. In her autobiography Mr Robinon’s wife Iris also denied these allegations which have been retailed all over this city for years.

I habitually heard the charges anytime Peter Robinson’s name came up. At no point in thirty years would I have dared ask Mr Robinson about the veracity of those allegations. Isn’t it remarkable that I should now arrive at the point where I unshackle myself of the audacity to put the one question to which everyone wanted an answer?

This is a subject to which I will return.

On accusations that Peter Robinson might have availed of largesse from wealthy people, on the back of his categoric denial, will people continue to simply treat him as a liar? In many ways Peter Robinson’s robust defence of his character may be academic.

Those party members facing into political extinction in the next general election in the coming months are already wondering, “is Peter a liability now?”

I reported last week some people in the DUP were having ‘impure thoughts.’ That was a euphemism for saying some of them were lusting for higher office and desirous to see Peter Robinson off the patch.

Already mature people in the party are coming to conclusion that Peter can see the writing on the wall. They are asking how can he perform a role of First Minister with all the attending demands on his time and wrestle with what will continue as a daily diet of collateral charges, claims and allegations?

This story is set to run and run with many more salacious tales coming down the line none of which can be linked in any way whatsoever to Mr Robinson personally. We are into open season now.

Ian Paisley didn’t survive when the party concluded he was a liability, rightly or wrongly. When Ian Paisley Junior became ‘the only show in town’ at Parliament Buildings he had to walk the plank. Plus ça change in the cruel trade of politics.

The Damocles sword hangs over Peter. But Nigel Dodds and anyone else with ambition should also be aware of ‘ the Ides of March.’