Peter Robinson – Is this a resignation for slow learners?
Peter Robinson has issued a statement today saying he is stepping back for six weeks to allow him deal with the personal and family matters arising from his wife Iris’s admission of infidelity with a teenager.
Arlene Foster is the (mildly surprising) choice as stand-in as First Minister for that period. But is Peter Robinson’s career at the head of the DUP and and at the head of the North’s government effectively over? Is his decision today merely a prelude for a statement in six week’s time that will result, politically, in permanent decommissioning?
Here, for the record, is the full text of the statement he issued today:
“This has been a difficult time however; I want to thank all those who have sent messages of encouragement and support. I have literally received thousands of messages from all sections of the community and beyond.
I will want to respond to everyone who has taken the time to send their best wishes to me and the family at this time. I hope they will forgive me because of the volume if it takes me some time.
Iris is receiving acute psychiatric treatment through the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust. As a father and a husband, I need to devote time to deal with family matters.
To take account of this I have, following a meeting with party colleagues and one with the Deputy First Minister, asked the Minister for Enterprise, Arlene Foster MLA to carry out the functions of the Office of First Minister for a short period.
I appreciate the unanimous support from my Assembly and Parliamentary colleagues this morning. I want to publicly thank them for all their support and kindness to me.
I count it a great honour and privilege to lead the Democratic Unionist Party and I will continue to do so with the full support of my colleagues.
I continue to contend I have acted ethically and it is particularly painful at this time of great personal trauma that I have to defend myself from an unfounded and mischievous allegation. As you know I have requested that an opinion be obtained from Senior Counsel in relation to the Ministerial Code and related aspects. In addition the deputy First Minister has received advices from the Departmental Solicitors’ Office which do not present any complications of difficulties whatsoever.
I have asked for a Parliamentary and Assembly inquiry to be undertaken into these matters.
Throughout this period I will continue to work on the outstanding issues relating to policing and justice and some other matters.
This allows a particularly concentrated focus on these discussions and we will work to try to build on the agreements we have already reached so that a successful resolution can be reached.
This is the year to deliver at Stormont for all the people of Northern Ireland.”