Iris Robinson has sensationally revealed she attempted to kill herself following an extramarital affair.
In a dramatic series of intensely personal disclosures, the wife of First Minister Peter Robinson and mother-of-three said the affair had devastated her life and led to the suicide bid last year.
She has also admitted that she encouraged friends to provide financial backing to assist an unnamed man, with whom she had the relationship, in a business venture.
An emotional sequence of events also saw Mr Robinson go on television to say he has forgiven his wife’s infidelity and intends to fight to save their 40-year marriage.
At times appearing close to tears, the DUP leader made clear he intends to carry on in political life and would be returning to his desk this morning. However, it remains unclear what political damage the DUP leader has suffered and whether it will hamper his ability to continue as First Minister.
Sitting in the study of his family home, flanked by a crochet plaque paying tribute to his qualities as a father, the First Minister said: “This has been the most difficult period of my life... I feel the pain of it every day.”
Questions arose, however, as it emerged the Robinsons’ amazing public confession was in part prompted by a media investigation believed to centre on Iris Robinson’s finances.
After reading his personal statement, Mr Robinson was asked if he was confident that neither himself or Iris had done anything illegal in relation to financial or political matters.
He replied: “I am absolutely certain that everything that I have done has been done as it should. I know of no allegation that suggests otherwise.”
The First Minister also revealed that he had received a letter from the BBC containing questions about financial matters.
He said: “It contained no allegation against me, it asked questions which are easily answered, but there is no allegation that will stand.”
In a subsequent statement the Spotlight programme confirmed it has been investigating matters involving Iris Robinson for some time.
A BBC statement said allegations have been put to the Robinsons and their response is awaited.
He also indicated that the couple had originally intended to put out statements regarding the affair before Christmas but delayed because of medical advice over Iris’s condition.
Iris Robinson was not to be seen at her luxury home yesterday but her remarkable statement — just a week after she announced her withdrawal from public life — admitted: “Over a year-and-a-half ago I was involved in a relationship.
“It began completely innocently when I gave support to someone following a family death.
“I encouraged friends to assist him by providing financial support for a business venture. Regrettably, the relationship later developed into a brief affair.
“It had no emotional or lasting meaning but my actions have devastated my life and the lives of those around me.”
She revealed that on March 1 last year she tried to take her own life because of the guilt she felt over her affair.
The unprecedented revelations has left political circles stunned and the potential political impact on a couple representing a party that has often portrayed itself as a moral guardian cannot be underestimated.
Mrs Robinson drew heavy criticism last year which she attacked homosexuality as “an abomination” and argued that, with help, gay people could be