The political logic says Peter should stay if he’s cleared

This is a comment prompted by Mick’s oped for the Times. Apologies for posting it rather than commenting in the appropriate thread, but I can’t do so for technical reasons. Mick concludes his eloquent backgrounder:

“ For Mr Robinson, his political career is almost over.”

This isn’t obvious to me. If the DUP unanimously back Peter under the cosh of scrutiny for sleaze, how can they explain it if they ditch him restored to virtue? Shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the party, Arlene and Nigel impaled themselves on a pretty big hook yesterday when they didn’t absolutely need to. This image will stick.

The uninvolved majority of us are all wallowing, quite cruelly and enjoyably, in the impact of Peter as cuckold. That will recede, believe it or not. And let’s keep a sense of proportion. In Irisgate, nobody died, unlike as in other more familiar yet far more sinister crises, after which those involved survived and thrived. Let’s keep it that way. Btw,

I’m just a bit surprised that even some progressive commentators blithely accept that the sex angle has destroyed his authority. Talk to the kids, they’re more charitable once they’ve got the tweets out of their system. We really are in uncharted territory here.

But the DUP look as it’s dawning on them that if they change a leader cleared of sleaze, they affect their own prospects for the worse. Four months before one election – or even earlier if another is called – the party must play it straight for the sake of their own interests, and offer a consistent message. That means Peter if he’s cleared, stays, however awkward the timetable.

On the politics of the thing, let’s hold off on the destruct button, .now that fresh exchanges on J&P have begun. A maxim of democratic politics is that in the end what you say in public is more important than what you mutter in private. OK, this rule is dismissed in our little set up where conspiracies and plots are oh so cool. But it always works when the votes are cast.

Now that they have assumed the leading role they fought so long to achieve by nay saying, the DUP are impaled on the hook of the classic unionist dilemma of “deal or no deal” over the deal they themselves have already struck.

But appealing as they now must beyond their core vote, they would do better to avoid the classic Ulster Unionist path from O’Neill to Trimble of swearing undying support for the leader one day before chucking him overboard the next. Nothing was more was destructive of UU credibility.

I’d say that if Peter goes, the party risks greater rejection than if he stays. Either way, the DUP leader must honestly confront the TUV analysis which like racism in British society, is in all unionist hearts. It’s not what you feel, it’s how you deal with it that counts.

The DUP also need to frame an answer to the basic question some may be too embarrassed even to ask : What exactly is the issue over J&P ? The rest of us keep leaping in with elaborate answers. We should now shut up for a while and listen out for an answer.

Mick has expressed it “they loathe everything the other stands for, .” Maybe. They knew that at St Andrews and yet the deal was struck . What had happened? The republicans achieved the monumental outcome of the end of the IRA, they play their part in the Policing Board and in echoes of the civil war, they join the DUP in denouncing dissident violence. This is a record that the DUP can defend.

So the question is this: what reason do the DUP give their electorate for objecting to the transfer of J&P that Sinn Fein can deal with ? Sinn Fein ask the equally basic question, do the DUP ever mean to share power? More than core Sinn Fein supporters require a convincing answer. The unionist rejoinder, that Sinn Fein have stunted a provocative agenda on the language and the stadium etc. just to falsefoot the DUP isn’t convincing; those are issues that can be settled.

Each party is saddling the other with the responsibility for keeping the Assembly going. But there are some signs today and yesterday, that that tired old dynamic is changing under pressure from the voters who are not as stupid as some may think. It could it be that our parties are at last starting to learn the lessons of history rather than blindly repeating them.

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

  • granni trixie

    I never thought it was the sex angle in itself that is undermining PRs aughority so much as the culmination of suggestions that as a couple they are caught up in allegations of sleeze in Castlereagh and have taken advantage of the expenses system.

    He might even have garnered in sympathy as being wrong done by were it not that he became tarnished with the image of predator on a young, bereaved man – for make no mistake about it – an ‘ordinary’ affair would not have wreaked such damage.
    O and I forgot – he is also damaged on account of hyprocasy – he did not distance himself from a wife who was a member of Team DUP, in her remarks concerning gay people.

    This is no ordinary scandal – this is a scandal NI style.

  • OscarTheGrouch

    I still don’t get it. How on earth can he dodge the standards issue.

    I suspect that they may spin it so that it becomes a although I am clearly innocent but its a technical ‘matter of legal opinion’ and as its clearly distracting, for the good of the country blah, blah, blah, the union, blah, blah, and the need to look after my family , sob, sob, I have decided to stand down…..

  • Mr. J.

    Ultimately, even if cleared, the scandal of the past week has damaged Peter politically, in a way that won’t be forgotten.

    They are in an unenviable position. On the one hand, PR is cleared and they are left with a ‘tainted’ leader who may hurt them at the polls. On the other, they ditch PR and they risk falling into the same trap as the UU and losing their credibility and, resultingly, votes.

    And all in time for an election which could split the unionist vote three ways and leave Sinn Fein as the largest nationalist party in the Assembly.

    I wonder if the main unionist parties would play ball in an Assembly with SF as the dominant party?

  • Mick Fealty


    I don’t say, ‘his career is over in six weeks’… If the hysteria of the last few days dies down, it is entirely possible that he may return… By almost over, I mean that his effectiveness as a political leader is at an end.. The rest is a question of timing and events…

  • Tleaf

    This is the Dup we’re talking about.
    is it possible to get an example of a time when a party leader or member has been seen as a liability or distratcion and remained as leader with the same authority and dignity as before any scandal?
    ……….Dont think so, Robo’s away for ‘is tea!

  • Paul

    I would think what ever happens peter will be attacked for what ever he does in my view if he is cleared as II expect he will be he should come back.

  • Danny Boy

    Yes, it’s odd to hear people publicly taking the line that no-one will vote for a deceived husband, as a cuckold loses all authority. (Trimble?) This is backwards to the point of absurdity, even for here. What, a man’s authority lies in his wife’s vagina? Even the notion of ‘authority’ as a vital characteristic of a party leader is of more interest to people within the party than to the average voter.

    The voters I know are far more influenced by the impression of hypocrisy, emotional chilliness and ruthless manipulation that Peter Robinson’s statements and news management have given over the last week, especially seen alongside his career to date. He wouldn’t need so much ‘authority’ if he could elicit a bit more empathy from the public, but after forty-odd years of seeking to inspire fear the sudden plea for sympathy just didn’t come off.

  • [quote]The uninvolved majority of us are all wallowing, quite cruelly and enjoyably, in the impact of Peter as cuckold.[/quote]


    That is NOT what is really eating away and destroying Peter Robinson’s credibility and reputation as a political heavyweight, it is his callous and calculating disregard of his media bride, and now mentally fragile [or equally deviously calculating, depending on your view] wife, which doesn’t sit at all well with half of the population [the ladies] on all sides of the community.

    Although the dynastic pretensions of them both as arrogant heirs apparent in churchy Protestant circles doesn’t help either …. and the church may be recognising that as cynical self-serving abuse too, but I am never surprised at how stupid and easily led Man is, and how firmly they hold on to false views.

  • Pigeon Toes

    If Castlereagh council are being investigated, will this involve scrutiny of the role of the old Chief Executive Mr Adrian Donaldson?

    Mr Donaldson left his post in March 09 to fill the post of Chief Executive of The Policing Board.

    The post of Chief Executive Castlereagh Council has remained empty since that time

  • “what reason do the DUP give their electorate for objecting to the transfer of J&P that Sinn Fein can deal with ?”

    Many Unionists voted for the DUP because they promised to smash SF and this does not inlcude giving them nominal control over the legal levers of the state given that they have spent 30 years trying to wreck the state of Northern Irealnd.

    Those who cannot accept presenting SF with reward for their previous actions will switch to the TUV, but (hopefully) many more like myself will swallow hard and accept the political realities that confront Unionism.

  • Jaggers

    I think Peter Robinson is finished (or will soon be) as leader of the DUP. I think the forthcoming enquiry will exonerate him – and given there are very few witnesses and Mrs Robinson is presently indisposed, that should not come as a surprise.
    The DUP as a party has its factions and they bite at the heels of their leader. The DUP finds itself in one of the most politically competitive segments of Northern Irish voters who have moved with startling mobility from the UUP to DUP to TUV in the past decade. Mr Robinson’s marital problems have been a source of embarassment and weakness. Although a cheap shot the image of photographs of Peter Robinson with “CUCKOLD” written in red across his forehead will nurture that weak and embarassing image. I think the DUP will dump him for Nigel Dodds, though whether that is before or just after the Westminster elections remains to be seen.

  • Scaramoosh

    Perhaps the question is not one of authority, but rather credability.

    The MRS Robinson spoof video on YouTube has had 115000 hits and counting. It continues to do the rounds on Facebook and Twitter.

    A whole generation of people who had never heard of Robinson, will now think of his wife munching sausages, every time they here his name mentioned.
    Not to mention the fact that she has also become a figure of hate amongst a global gay community, hell bent on revenge.

    The best prospect for Robinson is to complete Paisley’s legacy, by cutting a deal on P&J in the shadows, before taking his leave. Robinson got where he got because of Big Ian, and he owes it to him. He did really h ave the option of walking of and seeing the party implode.

  • Scaramoosh

    He did not really have

  • ding dong

    Time for reality Brian, this is not about exoneration or rights and wrongs this is public perception. And all weekend and all week Peter robinson and hs wife have been ridiculed whether its on facebook, or youtube or by text ridiculed.

    No political leader can come back with any credibility after this. Now a very arrogant out of touch leader may try and a very foolish party may let him but once the flag comes down on the westmiister election campaign every DUP candidate will be asked about sausages,about mental illness, about cash loans, about their intentions towards teenagers, opticians, Iris coffees, the Graduate, the Drop Ur Pants party etc etc etc. THey will be ridiculed

    Nothern ireland has an incredible capacity for black humour – you only need to lok at the sign outside Whitewell church – a church for adulterers

    this will not go away if Peter robinson remains – and David Simpson, Willie McCrea, gregory Campbell and Nigel dodds will not face the electorate with this swirling around them.

    There may be no justice or even logic in this but Peter robinson is finished – or his party will split

  • Mr. J.

    ding dong,

    The reasoning you have pointed out above is childish, puerile, unfair,illogical, foolish, myopic and undeniably 100% correct.

  • joeCanuck

    Repost from another thread:


    Arlene Foster has a great opportunity now to cement her authority early by agreeing to a date for devolution in, say, 2 months time.
    It would remove the poison from Robinson too if this is put to bed before he comes back (if he does).
    Posted by joeCanuck on Jan 12, 2010 @ 08:20 AM

  • ding dong

    Never said it was fair or right in fact I said the opposite but there you have it Mr. J

  • Mr. J.

    To clarify ding dong, I was trying to highlight the fact that public opinion can often be poorly formed and inaccurate, but has sounded the death knell of better politicians than PR. I agree with your statement entirely, hence the 100% correct part at the end.

  • Joy of joys, the monthly puff for the Dictionary of Nationary Biography drops into the in-box. This month’s freeby podcast is “Politics: scandal and redemption”. No: you need to be medically, not merely politically deceased to qualify for the DNB: it’s Profumo, of course.

    However, it inspires the thought that Brian Walker’s piece here amounts to one of those daft personality questionaires:

    1A: Is your glass half-empty?
    1B: Is your glass half-full?

    2A: Is the next six weeks another opportunity for further posturing?
    2B: Or is it a chance for the parties to reconsider basics?

    3A: Am I a realist?
    3B: Does hope spring eternal?

  • fin

    Off course if the glove was on the other foot I’m sure Mick and Pete would be commenting on who his visitors were when PR was ‘working from home’ and the ability for senior people to come to NI for meetings with apparently no notice – you’d think senior politicians schedules would be a bit fuller than that.

    The situation can be ‘fixed’ and further down the line there’s a warm seat in the house of Lords waiting and of course his dream of retiring to sunnier climes in the USA can be realised,

    Of course he’ll need a US bank account…if he doesn’t already have one.

    I think the ‘unionist’ shopping list for the transfer of P&J just changed

    Now is ‘unionist’ singular or plural

  • Jaggers


    “there’s a warm seat in the house of Lords ”

    Lord and Lady Robinson of Lagan Towpath? I agree with many posters on here who think that it more the tone than the theme that will do for Peter Robinson, and that is why he will be removed from DUP head in the coming weeks or months.

  • John Joe

    I suspected that you do not start having extra marital affairs at age 59 and now according to Suzanne Breen this was not the first time for Iris. Secondly, it would be a rare politician that is involved in a one-off financial scandal. Both sexual and financial infidelity seemingly tend to be repeat offences. Even if Peter Robinson wants to completely brazen this out, I’d imagine six weeks is long enough for another whistle-blower to decide to finish him off or for someone to dig up more dirt. And who is to say that the next twist in this story won’t be Iris dishing the dirt?

  • ding dong

    Lord and lady Robinson of the Locker’s Inn and out

  • Panic, these ones like it up em.

    What a tale Iris and the “dealers” could tell.

  • Driftwood

    Whatever happened to Neil Hamilton and his classy missus?

  • Mr. J.


    Could you point me to a source for Suzanne Breen’s claims of repeated infidelity? Trying to wade through the media torrent regarding this story is exceptionally difficult.

  • The Impartial Observer

    I agree with Ding Dong’s post above. Robbo is on the way out not because of the allegation against him per se, which comes down to interpretation of the Ministerial Code, but rather it’s because people won’t be able to look at him in future and keep a straight face. The whole 6 week stand down is just a way for him to try and manage to bow out of this with some semblance of dignity.

  • fin

    Nuzhound is good at the mo, apparently the kid claimed to have cancer of the gonads and so unable to shag so he could end the affair, obviously someones a bit of a goer

  • Sam Semple

    Gregory Campbell is offensive when he says “the confidence doesn’t exist in the community” for devolving policing and justice.

    On what measurement system does he base this assertion?

    A straw poll of mates? (wouldn’t take long).

    Show us the figures and statistics to back your statement Pope Gregory….

  • Danny Boy

    Just when you thought it couldn’t get any weirder…

  • Jaggers

    The BBC announcement of the inquiry carried the headline “Ethics body to probe Robinsons” – is someone at the Beeb deliberately sending up this story?

  • Aldous Duke

    I’m guessing PR will be legally cleared and may fight his corner leaving the DUP leadership with a difficult decision right before an election. Being stubborn will however cost them in Westminster.

    I find it ironic that of the two high profile UUP defectors, it was Arlene who has been the more prominent and ascended the DUP ranks. Meanwhile Donaldson lingers in the background of the DUP entourage’s statement backing of PR. No doubt he would be happy to see Robinson go if only to serve his political ambitions.

    Arlene is seen as capable and this appointment can only bolster her influence within the party. However. I do think Arlene is merely the convenient buffer for the true succesor Dodds. I bet Dodds was never as glad not to be a member of the executive as this would not have been the rise to FM he would have wanted. Incidentlly, 6 weeks is only the statutory requirement, DUP could act before this, but that’s unlikely.

  • Panic, these ones like it up em.

    Sam Semple said

    “4.Gregory Campbell is offensive when he says “the confidence doesn’t exist in the community” for devolving policing and justice.

    On what measurement system does he base this assertion?

    A straw poll of mates? (wouldn’t take long).

    Show us the figures and statistics to back your statement Pope Gregory….”

    I would be inclined to think that Gregory Cambell would be happier in the looney fringe that is the TUV that is if he would be happy anywhere (Which I doubt)

  • John Joe
  • Driftwood @ 03.23 PM: I gather Neil Hamilton, from time to time, goes public to protest his total innocence. They continue to provide a vaudeville act, together or separately, on the Tory speaking circuit. She puts her name to catchpenny books. Lately, Iain Dale was bragging, uncharacteristic of him as it seems, that he had driven her to an engagement, being greatly entertained on the way.

    Jaggers @ 04:14 PM: You know, I was thinking along similar lines. There’s a world of difference between being “right and proper”, “ethically correct” and “morally OK”. The more my mind played on those two near-synonyms, the more muddied the whole thing became. Obviously something wrong was my “moral compass”.

  • Mr. J.

    JohnJoe, much obliged.

  • Stephen Blacker

    Got to ask, what is the difference with P&J to the Health or Education Ministries other than symbolism. Surely they are all equally important.

    Does anyone know why Iris is still an MLA? She is not even a member of the DUP anymore or so we have been told?

  • Banjaxed

    Every time I hear Gregory Campbell’s whingeing, I keep expecting him to break into ‘The Boy Stood on the Burning Deck’ with himself in the eponymous hero role.

    However, his constant negativity is becoming tiresome and he would do everyone a favour were he to jump ship in the direction of the TUV where his heart quite obviously lies.

    What good does he think he’s doing to his already shaken party in continually shoring up his own personal laager? Some of the grown-ups in the party recognise there’s a change in the wind and are adapting to fresh circumstances. Gregory, however, just wants to stoke his own boiler.

    He seems to be in denial that he’s in a power*SHARING* executive. Either he’ll have to face it and move on or, if he can’t, move out. In any case, he may indeed discover to his regret that ‘… all but he HAD fled’.

  • Jaggers

    Banjaxed, to quote Spike Milligan

    The boy stood on the burning deck
    Whence all but he had fled –
    The twit!

  • Mr. J.


    She has to notify the Speaker officially, though not neccessarily in person, that she is resigning her membership.

    It doesn’t matter if she is a member of the DUP or not, a la Gerry McHugh, the two roles are somewhat separate as far as the Assembly is concerned.

    The Speaker may be allowing the DUP some time to find a replacement before accepting her resignation.

  • fpveritas

    I do not think the TUV need Greg

    They do not like carpetbaggers

  • Stephen Blacker

    Thank you Mr. J.

    Its just that i thought that all DUP members had already written a resignation letter.

  • Banjaxed

    Perhaps I should have said, ‘The Boy Stood on the Lagan Lock…’, but that would have been mixing it!

  • Alias

    “We really are in uncharted territory here. But the DUP look as it’s dawning on them that if they change a leader cleared of sleaze, they affect their own prospects for the worse. Four months before one election – or even earlier if another is called – the party must play it straight for the sake of their own interests, and offer a consistent message. That means Peter if he’s cleared, stays, however awkward the timetable.”

    I was thinking along similar lines in regard to the complexity of cynicism in politics. If the FM said that he intended to support his wife in her hour of need, then the public would respond well to this display of marital duty in the matter of vows of for better or for worse. However, this fidelity to familial duty carries the risk of further revelations of either financial or other impropriety damaging the office of FM by association. So there is a balance that the public is prepared to strike between the public interest and the personal interest of the FM.

    If he dumped his wife, the public would judge that there is a greatly reduced risk of damage to the public interest by the severed association but would also disapprove of the disregard for said marital duty in the matter of vows of for better or for worse.

    Sincerity is of paramount importance in the preparedness of the public to strike this balance of interests, and that is why any hint of cynical manipulation of public sentiment or ruthless calculation by the FM is likely to prompt the public to call the ‘balancing’ deal off. Once the public makes the determination that their sincerity is being abused, they’ll respond with ruthless determination to put the public interest ahead of any such personal interest – punishing the abuser with greater force almost than they would have punished him if he was guilty of some formal breach of trust.

    It is part of the unwritten rules that the public are prepared to compromise their own interest within reasonable limits in cutting their political class some slack, but if the political class abuse that trust – or be seen to be cynically manipulating it – then they’ll regret it!

  • John Joe

    As far as the media reports have gone, Iris Robinson has only signalled her intention to resign, she hasn’t formally resigned any posts. As for the pre-dated resignation letters – I doubt the Speaker would accept it. I don’t know why, but I just cannot see her going meekly.

  • John Joe

    Sorry – I should have added (to stay on topic) – that that is why I believe her first public utterances will make or break PR. Iris has the power…

  • joeCanuck


    Surely any public utterances by her will have to be taken with a large dose of salt unless she is “cured”.

  • John Joe

    Let’s wait and see joeCanuck, we’ve only the sketchiest outlines of her mental health at the minute. We’ve also only got one side to this story – and (significantly) we have yet to get any statement from Iris along the lines of ‘I’m sorry…I hope Peter and the kids allow me to try and repair the damage to our family. Obviously, he was put in a very awkward position about the 50k and only became aware of the full nature of what had transpired in the last few days, etc’
    Since we didn’t get that statement (which would surely have been drafted for her if she concurred with its sentiments), I don’t think it’s going to come in something approaching that form, which could be bad news for him. AND it could have a huge impact on the leadership of the DUP, the struggle for the unionist vote etc.
    Not being dismissive about depression, which is a serious illness, but its pretty high stakes when its someone who needs, eh, ‘cured’?

  • Macanna

    Peters lack of sincerity became even more evident after his interview. He seemed to be trying to hang Iris while protecting himself. If he had kept his mouth shut I would have had more respect for him as a cold fish. His attempt at media and voter manipulation has backfired this time.

  • I find the way this is panning out interesting and sadly it is working to the DUP tops plan.

    The DUP tops have one aim, to stop the financial scandal splashing back over the whole bunch of them. The way the DUP does ‘business’ is on a par with FF. Thus there must be plenty of filth waiting to overflow into the public domain.

    By keeping the media hook baited with Robinson, i e will he or will he not return. The DUP tops are hoping against hope that THEY can survive this scandal, if only in the short term.

    Robinson is finished, the question is will he eventually accept the blame for the whole bunch of them. Sex is the last thing on must peoples minds I would have thought.

    Robinson being a cuckold is so last week 😉

    I bet there has been some bonfires in back gardens and computers wiped clean of late in those quarters and it is not porn or pics of Iris which is being removed.

  • seamus friel

    You are spot on. The DUP fear the financial and planning transactions of the DUP/Robinson controlled Council for the past 20 yhears being examined forensically. Developers are not known for their charitable natures nor are estate agents. If they give they need to be sure that they will get more back in return. Peter robinson has been very wealthy for a long long time- long before he had all those posts and access to all those expenses. Remember Charlie Haughey, for years no one asked how he could afford to buy an island on a Taoiseach’s wages. you just need one unhappy or weak person to start the avalanche. Follow the money, ignore the sex, ignore the smokescreen Fraser’s esatae representatives stated that they never expected the money back. What spin. Loans??? Who believes that. Peter saw that in this case there was the paper trail and acted in his own interests.
    He aint stupid and didn’t get where he is by being stupid. Cheques what were they thinking of the amateurs!!!

  • I agree with Brian and indeed Roy Garland of the Irish News who was on UTV last night. Peter Robinson will weather the storm as most of the comments are coming from political opponents and the media not his own supporters and party. My opinion has probably gone up not down of Peter Robinson.

  • cut the bull

    Is there any more to come, so as Jim Allister puts it Unionists can feel even more scanalised

  • cut the bull

    Sorry scandalised

  • fpveritas

    I think that Peter Robinson is not the best person to care for a fragile adultress
    Peter must be very very angry and hurt and I would suspect that Tender Loving Care would be in short supply.
    Oh to be a fly on the wall when they are on their own- the sparks are sure to fly and could easily ignite. Watch this space
    If Peter ditches Iris and she sells her story or writes a book it should be interesting

  • [quote]If Peter ditches Iris and she sells her story or writes a book it should be interesting [/quote]… Posted by fpveritas on Jan 12, 2010 @ 07:12 PM

    And Iris is entitled to half of everything if they cannot get on together anymore ….. which is a nice settlement/pension/toyboy allowance.

  • Awaywithyou

    Does anyone know how Kirk has represented the ‘gift’ or repayments in company accounts/tax submissions? Surely the IR would be interested.

    Has Kirk commitment fraud against his business partner by misrepresenting the true value of the company in that it was obtained under false prentenses?

    Also how do each of the Property Firms represent the gifts within their company accounts? [Removed by moderator] What about the accountants at these firms – do they not have an obligation to whistleblow on such payments being made – are they not qualified and registered to uphold standards?

    I understand the business has made a reasonable turnover but is it not strange that a business or businessman such as this would qualify for the Invest NI young entrepreneur awards? It’s a run of the mill establishment and displays no form of innovation. What was their criteria?

  • iluvni

    Where exactly did Peter Robinson get the information which lead him to ‘name’ Peter Curistan and make claims about him in Parliament?

  • granni trixie

    Awaywithyou:Another consideration is the inheritance tax implication,given that one of the developers has died and becauase of the circs, presumably the 25K was not counted by the family into the pot for IT purposes….which leads us to was the money a loan or a gift? If a loan,it has to be repaid but if a gift the developer’s family have to pay IT.
    This also leads to the question as TO WHOM the gift/loan was given and therefore who is responsible for paying back the loan?. From my understanding, the loan was to Iris and so she would be responsible for paying it back, not the young man.

  • Danny Boy

    Yes, couldn’t he have simply refused to pay it back? I wonder why he didn’t. Surely the Robinsons had more to fear from him than he did from them.

  • Awaywithyou

    Based upon the Selwyn Black transcripts from Spotlight relating to the texts around repayments. Did terms exist from what was originally monies to assist a young businessman get on his feet (i.e. a gift) and then stating repayment with implied terms for “repayment by Christmas” (i.e. a loan)

    (Removed by moderator)

  • Jaggers


    I note any recent print media reports have emphasised:
    “There is no suggestion of wrongdoing being made against either property developer”

    Questions being asked on this and other threads will surely be addressed by one of the several inquiries afoot.

  • Panic, these ones like it up em.

    Thats a lot of questions asked in just the last few posts.

    And Peter Robinson believes he can come back before or by 6 weeks.

    It looks a big ask to me !

  • granni trixie

    Panic ..I have to come clean..I object to your nom de plume.

  • Gonga Din

    Damaged goods the Robinson brand, Peter has to go enough of this master air brushing.

    Lets get all the underhand dealings out including Mrs Foster’s facts regarding Gaints Causeway and Mr Sweeney, there’s more to that as well…

  • Panic, these ones like it up em.

    grannie trixie said

    “14.Panic ..I have to come clean..I object to your nom de plume.”

    I do not know if you are familiar with the Jonesy character in Dads Army.

    One of his catch phrases was “Don’t Panic” and the other was “They don’t like it up em”(usually repeated) possibly suggesting cold steel up em in a war situation (or possibly not)

    So reversing these possibilities I came up with my nom de plume (Its all perfectly harmless with a hint of not being)

  • Pigeon Toes

    Whatever the truth of this matter I reckon that admitting to the affair, suicide attempts and the £50k IS the damage limitation.

    I pointed out earlier that any “investigation” (such as the impending whitewash is called) may have further ramifications.

    The Chief Executive of Castlereagh Borough Council at the time this all happened, is currently the Chief Executive of The Policing Board…

  • granni trixie

    Panic: no, I am not familiar with your cryptic reference. Which maybe makes some blogging point about assumptions about cultural references. Still don’t like it but can live with it.

  • Gonga Din

    Lets get the CEO of the PB in the box aswell good ob PT.
    Oh but what a webb…

  • granni trixie

    Pigeom Toes: a VERY interesting nugget of info.

    Heard the ACING CEO of Castlereagh on Talkback today which suggested much unrest and bias re appointment of permanent CEO.

  • granni trixie

    Typho: ought to have typed ACTING CEO

  • Pigeon Toes

    Turns out that Ken Campbell was also a DUP donor, on BBC site.

    (I would paste it, but the computer is playing up)

  • fpveritas

    RIP said he had post dated letters from all


    Tonight sweet Sammy could give no answers on this matter

    Did Ian ever have them?

  • Pigeon Toes
  • Mr Angry

    I’d be concerned that the DUP, having sacked a “mentally ill” woman, may be in breach of Section 75 / the Disability Discrimination Act.

    Additionally, if I were to phrase a question to the Departmental Solicitors in the style of “If I were to behave in this fashion on this matter would I be breaking any ministerial codes”? I hardly think that one might reasonably construe their reply – based on the context of the question – as being any sort of an exoneration.

    The truth will out.

  • I don´t agree. Voters do not take logic into account. He appears to be damaged goods and that´s that.

  • Alias

    How so, PT? I don’t see where Castlereagh Borough Council come into it other than having to explain the odd criteria which meant that Kirk McCambley (a teenager with no business experience who just happened to be the lover of the Council’s Alderman) was the only candidate eligible for the for lease on the Lock Keeper’s Inn.

    Since it is the Planning Service in NI that handles planning applications, the area of influence there would be Mrs Robinson’s political connection to the minister Department of the Environment (party colleague Sammy Wilson) and to the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (who happens to be her husband). So I don’t see how property developers seeking to gain favour with Mrs Robinson would put Castlereagh Borough Council under the spotlight in regard to planning irregularities.

    But then I don’t know what influence (if any) the local councils have in this area in NI, do you? I know Mrs Robinson was on the Planning Committee Castlereagh Borough Council but don’t ask me what that does.

  • jason

    For me, the real issue and the real inappropriate relationship of this scandal, is the relationship between a politician, who sat on a Council planning committee and two prominent local property developers. Regardless of whether the DUP change leader or not, there should be a thorough cultural change between the relationships of property developers and other businesses and politicians of all parties.

  • joeCanuck

    Panic: no, I am not familiar with your cryptic reference.

    Then you’re doomed I tell you Granni, doomed.

  • Mrazik

    Since it is the Planning Service in NI that handles planning applications, the area of influence there would be Mrs Robinson’s political connection to the minister Department of the Environment (party colleague Sammy Wilson) and to the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (who happens to be her husband). So I don’t see how property developers seeking to gain favour with Mrs Robinson would put Castlereagh Borough Council under the spotlight in regard to planning irregularities.

    But then I don’t know what influence (if any) the local councils have in this area in NI, do you? I know Mrs Robinson was on the Planning Committee Castlereagh Borough Council but don’t ask me what that does.

    Posted by Alias on Jan 12, 2010 @ 10:03 PM

    Local councils in NI are consultees when it comes to individual planning applications and are also key consultees with the various area plans, such as the Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan (

    Civil servants in the Planning Service make the decisions on planning applications and also produce the local area plans so it is they who have their signatures on decisions (and are largely unaccountable in a planning system deficient of transparency as to how decisions are actually arrived at).

    Politicians and local councillors are massive lobbyists on planning applications and, perhaps more importantly, on the local area plans where the development limits of settlements and zoning decisions are made.

    At the Assembly, MLAs are also important in the planning policy development context. A ministerial sub-committee virtually wrote draft Planning Policy Statement 21, for example, which is very kind to landowners and development interests (

    There is now also tremendous pressure for planning decision makers to given greater weight to economic issues:

  • Mrazik


  • Banjaxed

    I’ve been reading with interest some of the possible actions various state bodies could initiate in the granting of the lease, monies involved, etc., on the lock-keeper’s cottage.

    When this story first broke, I noted with interest a comment stating that Kirk McCamberly met ‘the sole criterion’ in relation to the lease.

    As far as I’m aware, properties owned by Gov’t Departments or Local Councils usually have a valuation, for rental or sale purposes, assessed by the District Valuer. The property is then advertised in several local newspapers inviting tenders – that is, if it does not go straight to auction. The tenders are scrutinised by the District Valuer and then recommended to the relevant body. However, if Castlereagh Boro’ Council has an Estate Office of its own, the District Valuer may not be involved but the procedure should be the same in substance. So there should be a well documented ‘paper trail’.

    I would therefore be interested to know if all the above criteria were followed. How many, if any, tenders were received for the rental of the property and what were the figures involved. It does not necessarily mean that the highest rent tendered will be accepted, although that could well sway the argument, but, in the case in hand, where you have a very young and inexperienced man involved, I should have thought normal commercial enquiries would have been pursued.

    Perhaps someone on Castlereagh BC could take it on?

  • Banjaxed

    As an addendum to the above showing that there’s nothing new under the sun, Sluggeristas may wish to be reminded of the case of a former Minister of Agriculture, one Harry West, Unionist MP for Fermanagh-South Tyrone. In 1967 he was dismissed for Ministerial impropriety involving the purchase of land he knew was to be purchased by Fermanagh County Council for the development of Enniskillen/St Angelo Airport.

    Ref. Wikipedia and Walker, G, A history of the Ulster Unionist Party (Manchester 2004) p 165,
    Mullholland, M, Northern Ireland at the Crossroads (Basingstoke 2000) p 120

  • Panic, these ones like it up em.

    Damn you Mrazik

    Any more of this and its off to the psychiatrist

    with you :>)

  • eranu

    i dunno whats going on over there in norn iron land. but it made the newspaper here in the uae.

    from the web version..

    Robinson affair causes a stir in Northern Ireland
    Member of parliament solicited £50,000 to give to her teenage lover without telling lawmakers, media claim

    AP Published: 00:00 January 10, 2010
    Iris Robinson with her husband, Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson. Peter vowed on Friday he wouldn’t quit as leader of Northern Ireland’s Catholic-Protestant government. Image Credit: AP Belfast : A political scandal riveting Northern Ireland has a certain cinematic feel: An affair by a 58-year-old woman named Mrs Robinson with a 19-year-old male lover.

    Five separate Facebook groups with hundreds of followers have sprung up, lampooning the affair and comparing it to the 1967 film, The Graduate.

    But there is a serious side to the story of Iris Robinson, who also happens to be a member of parliament and the wife of Peter Robinson — Northern Ireland’s government leader.

    The BBC reported that Iris allegedly solicited £50,000 (Dh294,000) from businessmen so her young lover could open a restaurant — without disclosing the fact to lawmakers.

    Iris has said she would not seek re-election because she was suffering clinical depression that left her unable to function in public life and revealed that she attempted suicide. She also begged forgiveness from her husband and the public.

    So, so sorry

    “Everyone is paying a heavy price for my actions … I am so, so sorry,” she said.

    Peter, who in 2008 succeeded the Reverend Ian Paisley as head of Northern Ireland’s government and its major Protestant political party, vowed on Friday to stay on following the revelations about his wife.

    “I will be resolutely defending attacks on my character and contesting any allegations of wrongdoing,” Peter said after the BBC investigative team in Belfast exposed the scandal. He stressed he hadn’t known key details of his wife’s affair before the programme.

    On Wednesday, Peter invited four journalists to his home to give his own agonised account of his family’s private turmoil — an unprecedented display from a man renowned for an icy demeanour.

    The Robinsons neglected to mention the nub of the BBC report: That Iris’s lover, 39 years her junior, had received third-party cash from her that should have been disclosed to parliament.

    Father’s friend

    The BBC interviewed the former boyfriend, Kirk McCambley, now 21, who had a relationship with Iris in 2008 that lasted several months. She had been friends with the boy’s father, who died earlier that year.

    “She looked out for me to make sure I was OK,” McCambley said.

    He said Iris gave him two checks for £25,000 each, but then asked him for £5,000 back, possibly to donate to the evangelical Protestant church she attends.

    The BBC said Peter was aware of the financial deal — which should have been reported to British parliamentary standards authorities in both Belfast and London. Peter Robinson denies having known about the deal.

  • achtung

    i have just seen the latest alleged info the spotlight team and other journos have garnered on the robinson affair. there are also allegations which can be levelled at other members of the DUP. they are nothing short of explosive and relate to “extra-curricular” activities shall we say.

    the stories look credible as there appears to be a certain depth of detail portrayed. if they are indeed true i don’t think anyone would find the revelations that surprising, considering who has been mentioned, but the allegations are scandalous. here’s hoping the stories are true. the DUP is about to implode!

  • John Joe

    Achtung – do you know when they intend to take those allegations into the public domain? Just so we all can get some beer in.

  • Danny Boy

    God, achtung, I don’t know if I can take any more! Forget the snow, the DUP have caused the biggest dip in Northern Ireland’s productivity this winter. We’ve been good for nothing but baited breath and dropped jaws for a week now.

  • achtung

    it’s likely these allegations will emerge “in the coming weeks”. looks like an english sunday paper will be the first to get the ball rolling this weekend.