Iris Robinson (née Collins; born 6 September 1949) is a former
Northern Ireland Unionist politician. She is married to Peter
Robinson, who was First Minister of
Northern Ireland from 2008 to
Robinson was first elected councillor for Castlereagh Borough Council
in 1989, and served as Mayor in 1992 and 1995. She was a member of
Northern Ireland Forum for Political Dialogue from 1995 to 1997.
In 1998 she was elected to the
Northern Ireland Assembly for the
Democratic Unionist Party
Democratic Unionist Party as member for Strangford, acting as Deputy
Whip and health spokesperson. She was elected as
Member of Parliament for Strangford at the 2001 general election,
replacing the Ulster Unionist Party's John Taylor. She was re-elected
at the 2005 general election.
Robinson describes herself as a born-again Christian, and has
publicly stated that "the government has the responsibility to uphold
God's laws". In light of this, she was criticised for her views on
homosexuality in 2008.
In December 2009, Robinson announced that she would leave politics and
withdraw from public life following prolonged periods of mental
illness. In January 2010, it emerged that Robinson had an
extramarital affair with a 19-year-old in 2008, and she and her
husband were faced with allegations of financial impropriety related
to the affair. It was announced on 9 January 2010 that her membership
of the DUP had been terminated, and that she would stand down from
elected office. On 12 January 2010 she resigned from the Northern
Ireland Assembly, and on 13 January 2010, she resigned from the
House of Commons and Castlereagh (borough).
1 Personal life
2 Political career
3 Comments about homosexuality
4 Parliamentary expenses
5 Extramarital affair and financial investigation
6 Later years
8 External links
The oldest of seven children, Iris Collins was born in Belfast,
Northern Ireland to Mary McCarten and Joseph Collins, an English
soldier. She grew up in a working-class area in the east of the
city. She describes herself as a born again Christian and
attends Metropolitan Tabernacle Church in Belfast. She comes from
family with a mixed religious background as ten of her first cousins
are Roman Catholics. She attended Cregagh Primary School,
Knockbreda Intermediate School and Cregagh Technical College before
becoming a secretary.
She married Peter Robinson on 26 July 1970. They were the first
husband and wife ever to represent
Northern Ireland constituencies in
Parliament at the same time. They have three grown-up children:
Jonathan, Gareth and Rebekah. Gareth Robinson is also a former
Councillor on Castlereagh Borough Council.
Outside politics Robinson listed her interests as charity fundraising
for multiple sclerosis, interior design and horseriding.
Robinson was first elected councillor for
Castlereagh (borough) in
1989. She became the Council's first woman mayor in 1992 and served
as mayor again in 1995. She was a member of the Northern Ireland
Forum for Political Dialogue from 1995 to 1997. She was elected to the
Northern Ireland Assembly in 1998, representing the constituency of
Strangford. She acted as the DUP health spokesperson.
Robinson was elected as the DUP Member of the Parliament of the United
Kingdom for Strangford at the 2001 general election, replacing the
Ulster Unionist Party's John Taylor. She was re-elected at the 2005
Since taking up her seat in the House of Commons, Robinson has voted
in 32 percent of votes in parliament, below the average among MPs.
In her maiden speech she spoke about the "betrayal" felt by the Royal
Ulster Constabulary, criticising the Government's policy on
Robinson's voting record shows that she voted strongly against
introducing foundation hospitals, very strongly for the Iraq War,
moderately for an investigation into said war, voted moderately
against LGBT rights, and never voted on transparent Parliament or on
replacing Trident. Robinson also voted for Labour's 42-day terror
detention, part of the Counter-Terrorism Bill.
Robinson was suspended from Stormont for a day on 19 November 2007
after refusing to withdraw "unparliamentary" comments she had made
about the health minister, Michael McGimpsey.
In an interview with the
Sunday Tribune in April 2008, anticipating
becoming "First Lady" of Northern Ireland, Iris spoke out against
Hillary Clinton alluding to her husband's affair with Monica Lewinsky:
"No woman would put up with what she tolerated from her husband when
he was president. She was thinking only of her future political
career. It's all about power and not principle."
Comments about homosexuality
In June 2008, shortly after a physical assault on a homosexual man in
Northern Ireland, she made comments on the
BBC Radio Ulster's Stephen
Nolan Show offering to recommend homosexuals to psychiatric
counselling. While condemning the attack, she called
homosexuality an "abomination" that made her feel "sick" and
"nauseous", and offered to refer homosexuals to a psychiatrist she
knew. In a subsequent interview, Robinson defended her views and
denied prejudice against homosexuals, saying that "just as a murderer
can be redeemed by the blood of Christ, so can a homosexual.... If
anyone takes issue, they're taking issue with the word of God".
Her comments were rebuffed by representatives of the Royal College of
Psychiatrists, the Rainbow Project, the Alliance Party, Sinn
Féin, and the Social Democratic and Labour Party. The
psychiatrist in question, Dr. Paul Miller later resigned as her
adviser and stood down from his post of consultant psychiatrist at
Belfast's Mater hospital. He is no longer a consultant psychiatrist
within the NHS and has been reported to the General Medical Council
(GMC). A police investigation followed these comments, over
100 complaints were made, and gay rights activist Robert
Toner also made a complaint to the Equality
Robinson subsequently repeated her views in parliamentary session.
Speaking in a 17 June 2008
Northern Ireland Grand Committee session on
Risk Assessment and Management of Sex Offenders, she said: "There can
be no viler act, apart from homosexuality and sodomy, than sexually
abusing innocent children" She reiterated her statement to the
Belfast Telegraph on 21 June 2008, but later stated that she had
been "misrepresented" in Hansard. This statement was challenged
when Alliance Party Executive Director Gerry Lynch confirmed with
Hansard staff that Robinson's comments were in fact correctly
quoted. Further controversy was caused on 17 July 2008 when on the
Stephen Nolan Show Robinson stated "it is the government's
responsibility to uphold God's law". In the Northern Ireland
Assembly on 30 June 2008, in a discussion about "LGBT Groups:
Mental-Health Needs", Robinson said that "Homosexuality, like all sin,
is an abomination", and suggested that teenagers needed help deciding
whether they were homosexual or heterosexual. During this
period, Robinson herself was having an extra-marital affair with a
By late July 2008, the
Belfast Telegraph reported that "[A]lmost
11,000 people have signed a petition calling on British Prime Minister
Gordon Brown to reprimand DUP MP
Iris Robinson over her controversial
remarks about homosexuality" and "[Fewer than] 30 people have signed
an opposing petition calling on the Prime Minister to allow the
comments to go un-reprimanded as a matter of personal opinion and
religion". As a result of her comments, Robinson was named "Bigot
of the Year" for 2008 by Stonewall.
In April 2009, both Iris and Peter Robinson came under fire after
Commons MPs' expenses accounts were leaked to the press. The couple
were described as the "swish family Robinson" by the News of the World
Daily Mail after claims that they were receiving £571,939.41 a
year in various salaries and expenses, with a further £150,000 in
salaries being paid to four of the couple's family members.
Extramarital affair and financial investigation
Iris Robinson scandal
On 28 December 2009, and immediately prior to the airing of an
BBC programme looking at her personal life and financial
dealings, Robinson announced her decision to retire from politics
after claiming that she had been suffering serious bouts of stress and
depression. At the time she said the stress and strain of public life
came at a cost, and that her health had suffered.
On 6 January 2010, Robinson issued a statement in which she said that
she had attempted suicide on 1 March 2009. BBC's Spotlight programme
revealed on 7 January 2010 that Robinson had an affair with Kirk
McCambley, who was 19 years old at the time. It is also alleged
that she encouraged friends to provide financial backing to assist her
lover in a business venture. According to a
BBC investigation, the
payments she arranged from two property developers to McCambley were
£50,000. As the £50,000 was not declared to the Northern Ireland
Assembly this action broke the law. Robinson subsequently asked
McCambley for £5,000 in cash; as well as a cheque made out to
Dundonald's Light 'n Life Church, where Peter Robinson's sister, Rev.
Pat Herron is pastor. It is alleged that Peter pressed his wife to
return this money – however, he did not inform the proper
authorities about the large monetary transactions, which is a breach
of his duty and responsibility as First Minister of Northern
Ireland. Reports have been made of further affairs, with among
others, Kirk McCambley's father Billy, who died of cancer in March
Robinson's intention to retire from elected office was announced on 11
January 2010 and she resigned on 13 January 2010.
Castlereagh Borough Council announced on 14 January 2010 that it had
voted to carry out an external investigation in the catering contract
awarded to Kirk McCambley. Terms of reference for the investigation
include identifying if the Council incurred any financial loss and
whether officers and elected representatives complied with the
requirements of all relevant local government legislation and guidance
in the awarding the lease for the Lock-Keeper’s Inn. On 26 May
2011, the DUP announced that an independent investigation has "cleared
Iris Robinson of any wrongdoing in connection with the awarding of a
contract to her former teenage lover".
The PSNI announced on 21 January 2010 that they were to conduct an
investigation into Iris Robinson's financial affairs. On 20
February 2010 officers from PSNI searched the offices of Castlereagh
Borough Council as part of this investigation. On 25 June 2010, it
became public that Robinson had been interviewed as part of a police
investigation over money she obtained from two developers. 
Robinson reportedly received "acute psychiatric treatment" and was
under 24-hour suicide watch following the
It was reported that Robinson had been receiving psychiatric treatment
in a London clinic from January 2010 and returned to Northern Ireland
on 19 September 2010 to continue treatment.
Robinson made her first appearance in public almost seven months after
her return, at the funeral of her mother at Bethany Free Presbyterian
Church in County Armagh on 14 April 2011. Among the mourners was
Deputy First Minister
Martin McGuinness who embraced Robinson on the
steps of the church.
Her husband stated his wife was too ill to attend the Royal wedding to
take place 29 April 2011. Robinson did, however, attend the state
Dublin during the Queen's visit to the Republic of Ireland
20 days later on 18 May 2011.
^ a b c Biography – Iris Robinson,
Northern Ireland Assembly
Archived 10 February 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
^ a b c d e "Who is Iris Robinson?".
BBC News. 8 January 2010.
Retrieved 5 May 2010.
^ a b "Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, House of Commons".
TheyWorkForYou. 12 May 2008. Retrieved 16 June 2008.
^ The Stephen Nolan Show,
BBC Radio Ulster, 17 July 2008
Iris Robinson compares homosexuality to child abuse – Pink News
^ "DUP First Minister's wife
Iris Robinson quits politics".
28 December 2009. Retrieved 28 December 2009.
^ a b "
Iris Robinson had teenage lover".
BBC News. 7 January 2010.
Retrieved 7 January 2010.
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^ a b "
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News, 9 January 2010
^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 November 2007.
Retrieved 2007-10-30. at footnote 5
^ "Three Hundreds of Chiltern" (Press release). HM Treasury. 13
January 2010. Archived from the original on 7 April 2010. Retrieved 14
Iris Robinson resigns from NI Assembly". RTÉ News. 13 January
2009. Retrieved 13 January 2009.
^ "Assembly informed of Robinson resignation". RTÉ News. 18 January
^ a b The Big Interview:
Iris Robinson –
Iris Robinson and her 10 Catholic cousins
Belfast Telegraph Website
16 November 2009
^ McDonald, Henry (14 April 2008). "Ulster's Chuckle Brothers will now
give way to Brothers Grimm". The Guardian. London: Guardian News and
Media Limited. Retrieved 7 January 2010.
^ Peter Robinson Archived 27 April 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
^ a b TheyWorkForYou.com – Iris Robinson
^ UK Parliament –
Hansard (House of Commons Daily Debates) –
Monday, 25 June 2001
^ The Public Whip – Voting record summary
^ "Robinson ordered out of Stormont",
BBC News, 19 November 2007,
accessed 7 June 2008
^ "Peter Robinson goes back to work". PublicService.co.uk. 7 January
2010. Archived from the original on 10 September 2012. Retrieved 22
^ "The world according to Iris". Sunday Tribune. 20 April 2008.
Archived from the original on 12 January 2010. Retrieved 22 January
^ Listen to broadcast from show archives, accessed 6 June 2008
^ Tony Grew "MP reacts to homophobic assault by suggesting "ex-gay"
therapy for victim", Pink News, 6 June 2008, retrieved 8 June 2008.
^ Attack victim lambasts Robinson
^ Alliance blasts Robinson's offensive comments on gay people Archived
14 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine., Alliance Party, 6 June 2008,
accessed on 24 January 2009.
^ "Gay counselling' call rejected",
BBC News, 6 June 2008, accessed 7
^ "Kelly Condemns Homophobic Robinson". Social Democratic and Labour
Party. 8 June 2008.
^ "Mcdermott Slams Robinson's Homophobic Remarks". Social Democratic
and Labour Party. 9 June 2008.
^ Mills, Tara (24 February 2010). "'Cure gays' psychiatrist reported".
Belfast Telegraph – "Psychiatrist in gay storm steps down from
Belfast hospital", 13 August 2008
^ a b
BBC Will and TestamentWilliam Crawley's broadcasting diary
^ Moulton, Emily (9 June 2008). "Police probe Iris Robinson's 'gay'
BBC News – "New criticism over MP's gay views"
^ Henry, Lesley-Anne (12 June 2008). "Man suing
Iris Robinson over her
comments on gays".
^ DPP List of independent and political members, 31 March 2008
Archived 15 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
^ Andrew Muir chronological history Archived 5 December 2008 at the
^ Official House of Commons Committee minutes – "Risk Assessment and
Management of Sex Offenders"
Belfast Telegraph – Iris: gays more vile than child abusers
^ BBC', 21 July 2008, "Gay comment inaccurate" – Robinson
^ "Alliance Party –
Hansard confirms Robinson correctly quoted on
homosexuality and paedophilia" Archived 3 December 2008 at the Wayback
^ Mark Devenport,
BBC blog, 17 July 2008, "God's Law"
^ The Assembly – Official Report, Monday, 30 June 2008 Archived 6
October 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
^ BBC, 30 June 2008, "Gay comments twisted"
^ Timeline: Peter and
Iris Robinson affair allegations,
Belfast Telegraph – "11,000 demand PM reprimands Iris for her
outburst about gays", 23 July 2008
^ "Who is Iris Robinson?".
BBC News. 8 January 2010. Retrieved 27
^ "Gay cure" MP
Iris Robinson voted Bigot of the Year at Stonewall
^ "Who is Iris Robinson?".
BBC News. 29 December 2009. Retrieved 8
^ BBC, 6 April 2009, Robinson rejects 'swish' pay tag
Daily Mail report on the Robinson's salaries and expenses
Iris Robinson quits politics due to depression
^ McDonald, Henry (7 January 2010). "Peter and
Iris Robinson face
BBC documentary". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 7
^ Wife of Ulster's First Minister, Peter Robinson, admits to having an
Iris Robinson business deal broke law".
BBC News. 8 January 2010.
Retrieved 8 January 2010.
Iris Robinson is accused of having three more lovers as she
receives acute psychiatric treatment", Daily Mail, 11 January 2010
^ "Initial Terms of Reference". Castlereagh (borough). 14 January
2009. Archived from the original on 20 July 2011. Retrieved 14 January
^ "DUP say
Iris Robinson and Castlereagh council cleared". BBC. 27 May
2011. Retrieved 2 June 2011.
^ PSNI begins inquiry into Iris Robinson's finances, The Irish Times,
21 January 2010
^ PSNI in
Iris Robinson council searches
BBC Website 21 February 2010
Retrieved 21 February 2010
Iris Robinson questioned over developers' money, BBC, 25 June 2010
Iris Robinson receiving acute psychiatric treatment
BBC Website 11
^ Newspaper reports on
Iris Robinson 'pure fantasy'- DUP
22 February 2010 Retrieved 22 February 2010
BBC News –
Iris Robinson back in
Northern Ireland for treatment".
bbc.co.uk. 19 September 2010. Retrieved 21 September 2010.
^ Sarah Rainey (14 April 2011). "
Iris Robinson back in public eye as
she mourns her mother".
Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 17 April
^ Lesley-Anne Henry (19 May 2011). "A very public return to the
Iris Robinson meets Queen".
Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved
19 May 2011.
Guardian Unlimited Politics – Ask Aristotle: Iris Robinson
Maiden Speech : House of Commons – 25 June 2001
Northern Ireland Forum
Member for Strangford
Northern Ireland Assembly
MLA for Strangford
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Member of Parliament for Strangford