The investigation by BBC’s Spotlight and its reporter Darragh McIntrye into the Iris Robinson affair (political and personal) was extraordinary. Not only did McIntyre get the young man with whom she had an affair to agree to talk on the record. He also managed to secure a full on-the-record interview with her former personal adviser, Selwyn Black, who disclosed the contents of the many phone texts she sent to him during the period.
The allegatations were stood-up; more than that signed, sealed and delivered. He was able to rely not on one whistleblower, but two: the two other people centrally involved in the whole murky business. Talk about bang-to-rights.
The whole saga threw up a host of unsettling questions, not least the massive age gap between her and Kirk McCambley, who was 19 when the affair started. If that were a man, there would be (rightful) outrage about the impropriety of such a gap.
She was utterly compromised. The donations or payments she received stink in the same way as do all the dubious donations and whip-arounds that politicians received in this jurisdiction. Did she have an influence as an alderman in persuading Castlereagh Council to award the lease of the cafe to young McCambley? Of course she did. And she declared nothing.
Her husband is in a bit of bother too. If he was aware of the situation in March last year, it seems there was an obligation on him to declare.
From a personal point of view, there do seem to be extenuating circumstances. Given that his wife had had an affair with the person who benefitted from the £50,000 received from the two developers, a declaration would have indirectly pointed curious journalists to that potential discovery. It’s not an excuse. But it’s understandable why, for personal reasons, he would not have rushed to fill the gap. Still, no excuse.
What is worrying, though, is that it seems the Robinsons believed that it could be kept secret. Later that summer Iris went onto radio and declared homosexuality to be an abomination. What a hypocrite! The same chapter in Leviticus also condemns adultery int he same absolute terms.
It was only when McIntyre’s investigation started getting very close to the bone, and when they realised he had conducted lengthy interviews with both McCambley and Selwyn Black, that both made their extraordinary admissions.
I can’t see Peter Robinson remaining in position for too much longer.