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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: January 8, 2010 @ 2:17 pm

    Iris Robinson

    Harry McGee

    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.

    • David says:

      I was outraged by Iris Robinson’s widely reported comments about homophobia last year, mainly due to the effect that her comments would have in terms of incitement to hatred and feeding homophobia in Northern Ireland. I’m afrain in light of these revelations I’m engaging in quite a bit of Schadenfreude. It’s nice to that her hateful words were really the manic ramblings of a disturbed hypocrite. It will make me think twice in future before I let any other homophobic ranters get under my skin.
      At the same time Iris Robinson is suffering from a mental illness and this should be taken into account. The woman should be offered help and treatment and this should be seen as a factor in her unusual behaviour.

    • Steve K says:

      Iris Robinson made the rights and wrongs of personal lives of other people the subject of much of her politics. She does not deserve any protection from intrusion into hers, especially when it seems she compromised her public position securing loans for her teenage lover.

      How many of these DUP moralisers have been caught with teenage boys, youngs girls in fields or pursuing personal lives seemingly at odds with their public protestations?

      Makes you wonder about the Scots-Irish cultural influence on the Republican Party in the United States, where very similar public moralising covers up affairs with Argentinian beauties or young male prostitutes. Is it in the genes?

    • Tom Ennis says:

      To be fair Steve you could also ask whether Irish Catholicism influenced the often quite blatant political corruption within the Democrat’s ranks.
      On the issue at hand though- perhaps the initial sympathy for the Robinson’s is waning to the point that we can now ask if the mental illness claimed is an attempt to justify her actions after the fact

    • She who cannot be named... says:

      Oh come off it Harry…If this were a man there would not be story…there is nothing unusual about men trading their old bangers (apologies to the sisterhood) for a newer model…other than that I have no quibble with your comments…The recent ravings of the member for wherever (can’t be bothered to look it up) prosletysing NIrish politicians bore the bejasus out of me… Schadenfreude? definITEly tantamount to Cartesian proof of the existence of God…nothing like a little cold collation even on a cold winters day…enjoy!

    • She who cannot be named... says:

      Harry I didn’t see the BBC prog but am going to look it up on iPlayer now…did you mean Donal Mc Intyre?

    • Ian says:

      What Peter Robinson did was wrong but quite clearly the man was taken aback and appalled when he discovered that his wife was mentally ill, suicidal, had cheated on him with a 19 year old and had also taken money.

      You can’t blame him for all this sh*t landing on his plate at once. All you can do is pity him really. At least he tried to get her to return the money, but he probably should have declared it sooner.

    • Quint says:

      Steve K – ‘Makes you wonder about the Scots-Irish cultural influence on the Republican Party in the United States, where very similar public moralising covers up affairs with Argentinian beauties or young male prostitutes’.

      Good point.

      Behind all her self-righteous, sanctimonious, devout-Presbyterian, holier-than-thou ‘homosexuality is an abomination’ moralising, she was actually shagging a teenager young enough to be her grandson, behind the back of her husband of 40 years.

      The mind boggles.

    • barbera O'Shokenzy says:

      Two lonely people, one a middle-aged woman (heartbroken, who knows), the other a young man in distress, turn to each other for comfort. That is their sad story. The Mrs Robinson of the film “The Graduate” was a seductress and there is no evidence that that was the case with Northern Ireland’s Mrs Robinson of recent media speculation. (The reality is that Ms Anne Bancroft, who played Mrs Robinson in the film, was just another pawn in bringing just another male fantasy to the big screen). Whatever about Iris Robinson’s own personal life and failings –and I doubt there would be many so without blemish as to cast stones — the reason she is being painted a pariah is because of her outspoken views on homosexuality. That does not make her “homophobic”. I doubt that Iris Robinson despises any individual — I believe she offered the services of a psychiatrist friend to anyone she knew who wished to be helped adjust their sexual identity, which in her view is possible. I certainly do not hate any individual but I would hold with the Roman Catholic Church’s views on homosexuality. We do not all support the popularising of homosexuality and I agree with the schools of thought that see this as a curable condition. So shoot me with my Micro-Uzi for having an opinion that is not popular in Eire 2010.

    • She who likes 'playing names' says:

      Just viewed programme on Spotlight… as you rightly say, Darragh not Donal…only know Donal this side of pond..is Toyboy/Himbo the political fashion accessory du jour…? was she wearing Luboutin… I wonder..? All very Candace Bushnell

    • Hugh says:

      Well done to the Spotlight team (and I have to say to politics.ie in the Free State for their breaking the story early too). You can be assured that if this was dalliance between Mrs Robinson and Mr McCambley was in the Republic that the sum total of the media coverage would have been some oblique smug comment in the Irish Daily Mail, a similar effort in the Irish Independent, and a cover feature on VIP magazine.

    • kynos says:

      You know what, Peter and Iris? What doesn’t kill yiz makes you stronger. Trust me. It does.

    • barbera O'Shokenzy says:

      @ red biddy & all the other voices in her head
      There is something very Guardian Ciffy about your comments. Why not try to be yourself?? And please, o please just one of you make comments. Most of us are crazy enough without being drawn into someone else’s psychosis. Are you also Desmond Fitzgerald? He seems to have disappeared into the background. Maybe you are Harry — or Deaglán also?

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      If this had just happened a few weeks ago you could maybe understand the shock of Peter Robinson and his lack of action.

      But the fact he has known this for about a year belies his claims to be in shock. He has had plenty of time to get his head around it and to sit down and discuss all the details with his wife.

      The only reason they came clean was because they were about to be exposed and even then their statement never mentioned the money or details of who she was involved with.

      Just like Lenihan wasn’t going to admit that he, in the midst of being responsible for taking some of the most important decisions ever taken in the history of the State, to either do right by the Irish people or revert to type and bail out his crony golden circle friends, would also be dealing with a health issue that, by its very nature, would mean his judgement had to be questioned and his ability to focus in doubt.

      Only when TV3 exposed the truth did Lenihan finally admit it.

      Just like we can wonder how long the vile Robinsons would have kept their sordid secret.

      She’ll be fine with her MP, MEP, MLA and Councillor pensions and whatever else she has siphoned off over the years.

      They have always had vile beliefs. If it was only a short term thing then sure, you’d feel sorry for her but she was spewing the same bile long before she took advantage of a vulnerable young man.

      Oh the irony of her comments about gay people and it turns out she is the one young people have to be protected from.

      It’s easier to have sympathy for Lenihan despite his politics and the damage he and his family have inflicted on us.Given his pedigree it stands to reason he and his brother turned out the way they did.

      However, Robinson will have to work a lot harder for sympathy. Perhaps she can do some charity work or donate some of her obscene pensions to organisations in Ulster that help gay people and those living with HIV/Aids.

      That is if she is really sorry for what she is or is she just sorry she got caught.

    • Gerry says:

      anyone hear that heart broken Iris is off to the alps to re couperate. The story gets better and better. Additionally, a campaign is underway to make the 1968 Simon & Garfunkel classic, Mrs. Robinson, the #1 song on this week’s UK pop chart, aided by a radio request effort and an iTunes download promotion.

    • Michael Wall says:

      “So heres to you Mrs Robinson”
      Jesus loves you more than you can know
      woah woah woah
      Oh Please Mrs Robinson heaven holds a place for those who pray,Yeah yeah yeah

      Paul simons song of Middle aged women, religious hypocrisy,male power,mental illness etc is a fitting soundtrack to the rise and fall of Northern Irelands Ice queen.

    • Patrick says:

      If this was YOU, what bussiness is it of mine? There are a lot of MRS. ROBINSONS in the world as well as MR. ROBINSONS. At least no child was sexually abused.

    • Steve K and Quint, in their desire to blacken the whole of the Scots-Irish or Presbyterian population, seem to have overlooked the fact that the Robinsons are members of the Elim Pentecostal Church which has roots in Wales.

      As for the so called Free Presbyterian Church (or the DUP at prayer), the fact is that it is neither free or Presbyterian.

      The Presbyterian Church of Ireland actually condemned Iris Robinson’s homophobic remarks, and was disappointed by her husbands failure to offer his condolences on the death of Cardinal Daly.

      Less of the offensive comments please. You can demonize or laugh at Iris Robinson if you must but hands off a section of the population who have contributed greatly to both Ireland and the UK.

    • Pomme Frites says:

      Not very sisterly Barbie…No voices in my head…just like a little word play…but if this is a ploy to deflect some of the redneck homophobia you spew out I’d prefer not to be subjected to your comments… but the moderators appear comfortable with them so I usually just scroll past them and those of other tedious contributors… I’m not sure what Guardian Ciffy means…your state of mind is a matter for you and your health professionals…I’m only interested in highlighting the absurdity of life…I’m not going to trade insults with you a little too infra dig for me…

    • Pseudonomia says:

      Kynos: what you might call ‘a law of Nietzche’…!

    • dealga says:

      ‘She who etc’

      I don’t like replying to comments by trolls but nevertheless you’re right that the reaction would be different if Peter had had an affair with a 19 year old.

      But, contrary to your nonsense, he would, in fact, be getting it from all sides to a far worse degree than Iris has, as is the way with these things.

    • Ray D says:

      I doubt that the code of conduct/legislation has any implications for Peter. He is a third party here and no doubt it was the duty of his wife to make the declaration. I would imagine his own knowledge of matters (what he knew and when) is irrelevant and doubt that there is any requirement (or indeed a mechanism) for him to shop on his wife.

      He would be well advised to stick to business and bring justice and policing under local control immediately. – with a SF Minister the obvious boss.

    • Aidan says:


      Your comment about the “popularity” of your opinion is very telling.

      You should be more concerned about whether you are right or wrong.

      Do you feel that someone could “cure” you of your heterosexuality?

    • analiviaplurabelleredbiddykarmachameleonpommedeprataietc says:

      Barbie: I’ve given my full baptismal name since you have problems with diminutives…but surely you can see why I have to shorten it…as for Kirk and Iris…she got laid he got money so what…? Does anyone really believe these proseltyzing Evangelical types when it comes to morality…If it was a man in his late middle age using his position of power and influence to exploit a nineteen year old teenage girl he’d be cheered on by the guys and probably supported by women who have little or no understanding of sexual politics…Who knows maybe Kirk was a good Prod…As for the name game I tend to find a little word play makes the joy of txt so much more satisfying …you should give it a go

    • analiviaplurabelleredbiddykarmachameleonpommedeprataietc says:

      Dealga: If you’re using the term ‘troll’ meaning electronic mail then of course it’s for you to decide what and who you respond to. However if you’re being gratuitously offensive then your comments only discredit you. Because you don’t get/agree with my comments/humour doesn’t make it ‘nonsense’. Just let those who do enjoy it. Manners maketh the wo/man and all that…

    • barbera O'Shokenzy says:

      Aaahh! The calming, comforting, restful, gentle, peaceful, relaxing, soothing, insightful, informed voice of Desmond Fitzgerald is back. Think I’ll take a break. Mind the Stasi, people, (they have many secret identities); but don’t worry, just so long as you are down with the liberal agenda and see fit to make a mockery of, for example, the Holy Name (as at 4 above) no redneck liberal fundamentalist will get on your case.

    • annaliffeyetc says:

      Get your coat Des…you’ve pulled! Let us know if you find that needle in a haystack your’e looking for…

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      Oh the irony, the sexual and financial activities of Iris Robinson and her husband’s intervention will make Sinn Fein the largest party, in the North, and these irregularities show they have more in common with Fianna Fáil politicians then we’d have ever guessed!

      No wonder the big bigot Ian had a face like thunder on him!

    • annaliviaredbiddykarmachameleonpommedeprataineetaytoetc says:

      Barbie: There ain’t no such thing as a ‘redneck liberal’ it’s a contradiction in terms’ or an oxymoron…never sure which…now why don’t you focus on the substantive issue…your obsession with me is becoming a little unhealthy…and keep searching for that ‘needle in a haystack’…clearly an expression of an unresolved psychological desire…very Freudian…

    • ann Kennedy says:

      I am very glad i am a ‘miss nobody’ the way the world is at large, and who is no better at it than the irish people, run through the minutae of individual lives (for sport) is vile.
      Life is short for all, just get on with it and smell the roses, not the dung.

    • Gerry says:

      If this was YOU, what bussiness is it of mine? There are a lot of MRS. ROBINSONS in the world as well as MR. ROBINSONS. At least no child was sexually abused.
      Comment by Patrick

      “Hmm she slept with the father of her toyboy as well. that is def weird”

    • eimear says:

      Darragh and Donal MacIntyre are brothers.

    • barbera O'Shokenzy says:

      @ Aka-a-lot. Thanks for the psycho analysis ‘aka-a-lot’. Freud’s a bit slippery though — prefer Kristeva’s reinterpretation of Freud myself but maybe Iris’s antics will help take the focus off the Oedipal and shine some light on the pre-Oedipal, which is useful in understanding the human condition. I think the intolerance of pc ‘liberals’ towards anyone who doesn’t agree with them qualifies such behaviour as being fundamentalist and redneck.
      Yourself and meself, Des. They say opposites attract.

    • Pomme etc says:

      I am beginning to understand Deaglan’s description of ‘bloggers’ as ‘moody loners with handguns’…Leaves Sam Peckinpah (Straw Dogs) in the ha’penny place…and explains the origin of the term Lynch Mob… Glad I used various aliases on the principle that it’s harder to hit moving target. Finally, Des and I are agreed on a point, up to a point and thanx eimear, thought there was a MacIntyre family resemblance when I watched the ‘Spotlight’ programme…Barb.ie do we need to buy a hat…?

    • barbera O'Shokenzy says:

      Drat……my plan didn’t work. Thought it would take Pomme a long time to decipher Kristeva — usually takes a couple of years. Actually though, I thought Pomme would be quicker ‘on the draw’ than that. Yes, it’s so comforting to surround onselelf with like-minded ‘friends’ but it’s much more rewarding to be an individual. Lay off the Robinsons and shine the ‘spotlight’ on yourselves people.

    • Pomme says:

      Barb.ie doll…! Are you completely ‘mum n dad’…or just on high days ‘n’ Holy Days of obligation?…(no offence)… see you’re playing the name game now too…You know what they say…’Imitation is the sincerest form of Flaherty’…actually I made that up…kinda Wildean don’t you think…? Now hows the ‘Ken’ thing going…? I’m all (virtual) ears…!

    • shoegirl says:

      barbera O’Shokenzy – homosexuality was removed from the DSM (American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic manual) in the early 1970s. This means that the medical profession a) do not regard preferring your own sex as an illness and b) as its not an illness it is not “curable.”

      The “ex gay” movement to which Iris’ psychiatrist friend, Dr Paul Millar had connections, has been completely discredited by all but a tiny minority in all areas of the medical profession, and indeed, there have been studies which indicate that significant harm has been done by that movement, which is not only becoming increasingly irrelevant in the USA, its also being increasingly proven that the only “experts” in the movement have no medical background or training/qualifications and are almost always motivated by religion.

      The catholic church, incidentally, does not see homosexual leanings as something which can be altered. It see it, as it does heterosexuality, as something to be controlled and disciplined. The only difference between the two sexualities in the eyes of catholic teaching is that there are limited, controlled circumstances in which heterosexual pairing are good and “natural” while homosexual ones never can be so. In this way, the extra martial relationship is in the same grade of sinfulness as the committed gay relationship, as is, of course, the dallyings of divorcees and the unmarried. And of course using contraception is bad bad stuff too.

      Iris’s psychiatrist friend was later discovered to have been trained by the notorious Richard Cohen, a practitioner so insane (he uses things like “touch therapy” and beating pillows in order to exorcise your gayness) that even the ex gay organization Exodus has expelled him.

    • barbera says:

      There’s just no de-terre-ing Pomme is there!

    • Pommmm says:

      Barb.ie what’s wrong have you run out of steam? Have ‘Mechanical Turk’ and sole sister (another Pomme original) ‘shoegirl’ knocked you off your one trick pony hobby horse…? I see you’ve declined to answer either of them…6/10 for attempted at pun @37…not quite the ‘Oscar’s’ tho’,and you’ve dropped the shokn pun on your name…Participation in this blog has reminded me how DULL Politico’s are…don’t see any entries on the party blog from you either..I’m sure you can find 5 random/semi interesting things about your life/familyto share with the blogerati….

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