Lets play Devil’s Advocate for Iris

Lynne Jones has raised the fact under Section 141 of the 1983 Mental Health Act any MP or MLA who is detained under the Act for a period of more than six months loses their seat.

This seems to exempt elected representatives from normal employment protections for those suffering mental health issues.

In the specific case of Iris Robinson those dealing with her case, which involves a longstanding mental health issue, seem to fall well short of obligations on employers under the Disability Discrimination Act and the release of information on her condition seems to break Data Protection legislation. See CIPD for further reading.

Of course Robinson’s case goes beyond mental health problems to claims of inappropriate behaviour and financial irregularities but if these issues are linked with her medical problems then perhaps the response should have been understanding, support, treatment and assistance in adapting her working environment to the difficulties caused by an illness? Not demonisation, ostracisation and expulsion.

Should the body politic, the media and public have shown a little more understanding to Iris, given her time and considered things in the round and possibly entirely rooted in illness?