January 7th 10
The media and much of what passes as public discourse in this part of the
world has been dominated since Wednesday by the trials and tribulations of Iris and Peter Robinson.
This Blog was aware of the gale of rumours and speculation which surrounded this couple in recent times. Some of these stories were bizarre.
When I heard that Iris Robinson had resigned from public office and when
I read her statement on this and about the depression which afflicted her,
I was very sorry for her and for her husband and family. Nothing that has
emerged since then has caused me to change my mind.
Of course, I did not agree with Iris on lots of issues, particularly her remarks
on the gay community. And her style was brash and over the top at times.
But I also did some quiet work with her on health issues and particularly
on the mental health and suicide prevention strategies. As with some
other DUP representatives, I found when we engaged quietly and privately
we could find common cause. I commended Iris on this in the Assembly
and I do so again.
The matters revealed so far are private and personal family matters and
the Robinsons are entitled to space to resolve their marital difficulties.
Issues of public policy and of Peter’s responsibility to fulfil the obligations of his public office are another matter but his willingness to meet Martin McGuinness on Thursday and his stated intention to make 2010 a better year for everyone is to be welcomed.
It is on that issue that judgement should be made, not on private matters. Iris and Peter Robinson have the right and deserve the opportunity to rebuild their relationship. I wish them well.