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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: January 11, 2010 @ 5:28 pm

    Peter Robinson – Is this a resignation for slow learners?

    Harry McGee

    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.”

    • Dan Sullivan says:

      I suspect Arlene Foster has been selected as she wouldn’t (due to her UUP past) be able to be a viable runner in any future leadership race. So none of the likely candidates is getting a leg up.

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      My God, he is as horrible. I almost feel sorry for her. I hope she had the time of her life with the toyboy. If that’s the type of santimonious twit she has been married to for 40 years you can’t blame the poor women for losing the run of herself. It’s a shame she let the guilt afterwards get out of hand so much.

      How many times has he mentioned ‘I’ or tried to make dumping his wife as she feel to pieces to go to the office sound like a good thing!

      But the scary thing is how can anyone have the faith in either the unionists or nationalists to be trusted with justice or policing. It only takes one or two nutters from either side to get access to all sorts of information and want to start settling scores going back to the 70s and 80s.

      I don’t see anyway that the North can ever be trusted to run its own justice and policing when it can’t even agree on the importance of educating children from both communities together.

      Also, why isn’t there a single flower bed outside Stormont – it is easily one of the gloomy parliament buildings in Europe. A few flower beds along the grass slopes would do wonders to lift it a bit. Maybe Iris knows a hunky young gardener for the job.

    • iarlaith says:

      Look what fire and brimstone has proved, demoracy has proved that Right is always Right…..Right on Mr. Paisley!!

    • Anne Hughes says:

      While having great sympathy for the Robinson family, I am absolutely puzzled by the fact that Iris is only been treated now. Did no one notice during the past year that she was so unwell ? She must have been highly involved in her constituency work.

    • barbera O'Shokenzy says:

      I go on about this a lot here there and everywhere (excellence of Irish Times front-page photographs, that is) but today’s (Tuesday 12th) front-page image of Peter Robinson through the rain drops on the window of his car (by Peter Morrison) was just so beautiful and so sad — reminds me of Italian Renaissance Art –
      Leonardo da Vinci’s Portrait of a Musician (1485-90), or Raphael’s portrait of Agnolo Doni (1506-07), or Titian’s portrait of Vincenzo Mosti (c. 1520), for example …or better, Hans Holbein’s portrait of George Gisze (1532) or his Erasmus of Rotterdam. Actually he does look like one of the characters in Rubens’ The Four Philosophers (1611) – can’t find the right painting but that front-page photograph reminds me of a painting that is in my memory.

    • barbera O'Shokenzy says:

      Desmond you are being naughty! But you are so right about that Stormont building. Reminds one of Gormenghast Castle in the trilogy by Mervyn Peake. Don’t think they’ll be planting anything from the Iris family (Iridaceae) though. A few daffodils, at least, to brighten up the place.

    • Harry says:

      The thrust of coverage over the last 24 hours is that his six week break will be elongated? There’s been a lot of noise about his links with the developer Fred Frazier. Will more come out?


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