Thursday, 19 May 2011

The problem with Iris.

Iris Robinson has made her first public appearance since the scandal that brought an end to her political career and saw her remove herself completely from public life to deal with both the ramifications of her affair and also the mental illness that plagued her.

I'm sure that Peter Robinson is pleased that Iris is on the right road to recovery from her illness and he clearly deserves credit for being able to work through some truly horrible times and keep his marriage and family together.

What is of concern to me though, is that the public in Northern Ireland take Iris 'back' into public life without question. I don't feel we, as the public have the right to judge Iris Robinson for her affair and it is right that people are shown compassion and forgiveness when they make mistakes because, after all, every one makes them. For Iris however, the affair isn't my problem with her being welcomed back with open arms. It is her opinion on homosexuality.

Be under no illusions; Iris is homophobic. This cannot be disputed because it is fact.

Iris Robinson's comments on homosexuality are a matter of public record and she has, as yet, never sought to apologise for them so one can fairly assume she still holds them. Even Ian Paisley Jnr has said he has matured on the issue, which while not a full apology and acceptance he was wrong, does at least show he is heading in the right direction.

The public should be cautious about accepting back, without question, a woman who was so keen to judge and condemn others for committing sins proscribed in her Bible whilst she herself was busy committing them herself.


  1. Thanks for this thoughtful piece, Ed.

    I agree wil much of what oyu say, not least the credit that Peter Robinson deserves for having stood by his wife in the aftermath of what I imagine has been his experience of great injury and hurt.

    I also agree that Iris said things about homosexulaity that stand in the public record as deeply offensive to homosexuals - and indeed to many folk in our society. More generally, Iris Robsinson developed a reputation for ferocious agression in public utterances - a tendency that has been far to evident in our Northern Irish cultural manner.

    Within that amorphous and complex group 'the public', I'm not one who is minded to accept Iris Robinson 'back, without question, ..'. But, that said, I feel is not our place to either forgive or to judge a fellow human being who, like all of us in our various ways, has done wrong. Iris Robinson, for whatever reasons, has been going through a very tough time. As fellow flawed persons, we should focus at this moment on showing compassion and kindliness.

    In due course, I guess, Iris will find and begin to express again her public voice. Let's wait to hear what she has to say ...

  2. Opps! Sorry about the typos in the earlier comment. I guess you'll get the gist ...

  3. Denis, don't worry about the typo's, I do indeed get the gist!

    For me, it's not Iris' affair that is the issue. I had the same problem with Iris before that as I do know - that she is a homophobe. I had hoped, however, that the affair would show people that she is also a hypocrite and the very thing she used to defend her homophobia - her devout faith - was not as dear to her as she made out.

  4. Iris chose the south to make her "first" public appearance ...... a place that she was quick to condemn in the past along with her views on homosexuality. I would never delude myself with any grandiose opinions of myself to think that it is my role to forgive Iris for having an affair with a toy boy. Nor is it down to me to criticise her for her opinions on homosexuality. I have many friends who are homosexual and they have been striving to gain public acceptance, and it was her public outburst in her verbal attack of them using quotations from the bible that in her mind condemns them to an eternity of the fires below, did her no favours. However again, whilst we strive to publicly show an acceptance of mankind in all forms, there are still those who do not approve, but they do it in private. I suppose sticking to the old adage of "if you can't say something good say nothing at all" .... So what is my problem with Iris??? simple ....... she used a publicly elected position to air her views of condemnation of an electorate which has the "dreaded" homosexuals in their number ..... so she wanted election, but she did not want the votes of the homosexuals or their friends and family?? I could even ignore this and see this as an extremely stupid and ill advised public political faux pas but my real problem is the flaunting of her elected position to curry favour with builders and developers for her own means ...... for her increasing land portfolio, her own pocket and the financing of an affair with anyone irrespective of their age (although that does somewhat compound the situation). The public have been deemed to have forgiven Iris and poured sympathy onto Peter allowing him to be elected again ...... wrong!! the election outcome was due to tribal voting due to a lack of a viable alternative.

  5. Sarah, that's all pretty fair comment.

    I'm genuinely concerned that Iris Robinson is about to become a reborn NI personality without any effort to atone for her behaviour.

  6. Totally agree with you, Ed. She is going to have to face up to this issue again, sooner or later. I would be very surprised if she made a complete about-turn on it.

  7. There is no way that she will ever become a born again NI personality ......... people still have their backs up about her ..... she created mayhem and then was institutionalised due to personal risk and then she is photographed out shopping in London. She has never been brought to task for her actions and there are too many questions and no answers forthcoming. Do you really think that the people believed that there was no case to answer?? No we didn't. Although I do find it amazing that she was not available to support her husband's victory and yet a matter of 11 days, there she is banqueting with the Queen!!! Beggars belief!! but acceptance of her ....... never!!! Pete may have some people who think that he is very strong keeping everything together .... but is he???

  8. Having spoken to several people .... there sems to be a curiosity as to how Iris looked ..... but it seems to be more out of a "morbid" curiosity ..... when I asked if they were prepared to accept her back as a born again NI personality ..... it is, as I thought, a resounding NO!!!

  9. I've read a couple of your posts, Ed, and agree with this as well as some others. You make a number of excellent points.
    While I'm interested in Northern Irish politics, following a great deal from London - where there's little coverage - isn't easy, and at times I only pick up snippets.

    The Iris scandal was well-reported but what stuck in my head was her comments on homosexuality when I read about her online, not having heard of her back then.

    I have, however, built up respect for the DUP for their co-operative manner in contrast to the UUP and TUV and for Peter Robinson (also because of his handling of his personal life), while I stand on the other side of the spectrum ideologically.

  10. Zaki, if you look closely at the DUP's 'cooperation' with Sinn Fein, it comes from an overwhelming desire to stay in power, rather than any noble desire to keep NI progressing.

    Robinson though, has handled himself brilliantly in the press and public life and yes, it's right to give him credit for that. As a testament to his skills consider for a minute that the Robinsons were some of the worst offenders in the expense scandal and they both came out of it relatively unscathed.

  11. Interesting, Ed. I'd never considered that and it makes sense, now I think about it, that they're willing to press ahead and be seen to be co-operative to preserve their position in power. Thanks for pointing it out; I suppose that I hadn't worked it out yet pays testament to the communication skills of Robinson and co.

    I had been puzzled why they, previously the more hardline of the two unionist parties, had been happy to govern with Sinn Féin (the more hardline nationalists who figures had once refused to speak to) when they'd been opposed to the Good Friday Agreement.

    In which way do you mean they don't desire to keep NI progressing? With regards to the peace process or with regards to progressive policies (and their lack thereof)?

  12. It's not that I think that they don't have a desire to see NI progress, just that it is only on their terms.

    The problem for NI is that we will continue to be governed by 2 ideologically opposed parties. That results in either no effective and meaningful change or change that is half cocked and badly implemented to avoid veto from the other side.

    It no way to govern.