Belfast Telegraph

Monday 29 December 2014

Iris Robinson and her 10 Catholic cousins

Relative blasts her comments on gays

A relative of Iris Robinson has revealed that she and another nine cousins of the controversial DUP politician are all Catholics.

And Jo Surtees, a successful businesswoman who now lives in France, has told Sunday Life she hasn’t had any contact with the Strangford MP for decades.

“It is highly unlikely that the relationship will be restored,” said Jo.

“We may be cousins but I don’t think Iris and I have very much in common or that we would have a lot to say to each other,” added the 54-year-old.

Jo confirmed that her late father James McCartney and Iris’s mother Mary were brother and sister.

She added: “My dad couldn’t wait to get out of Northern Ireland and he went to sea at 15.

“He met my mum Georgina, a Catholic from Sligo, in Southampton and they had five children — me and my four brothers who were all raised like our mother, as Catholics.

“My father even converted to Catholicism on his deathbed, just two days before he passed away. Coinciden-tally, my father’s other brother, Cecil, also met an Irish Catholic girl who he then married in England. The mixed marriages didn’t go down well with the family who were left behind in Belfast.

“And I remember that on the occasions we went to visit relatives in Belfast, the welcome was not exactly warm.”

Jo Surtees, who moved from England with her husband Richard to develop a luxury holiday complex in the rambling grounds of their home near Pamiers in the south of France, says she has no plans to get in touch with Iris Robinson.

She says she only realised that her cousin had become a prominent politician in the Nineties when she saw her on television along with her husband Peter, who is now First Minister.

“I remember meeting Peter when he started going out with Iris. They were both quite political and staunchly loyalist even in those days.

“I have searched for the name Iris Robinson on the Internet from time to time to see what she is doing.

“But I have to say that I don’t agree with a lot of what Iris says — especially about homosexuality and her claims that gays can in some way be ‘cured’.”

In her biography, Iris revealed her parents and other Protestant neighbours stood up to people who tried to intimidate Catholics out of the Cregagh estate.

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