Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Kirk McCambley back to business at the most famous cafe in Ulster

Kirk McCambley was aged 19 when he had an affair with Iris Robinson
Kirk McCambley at the Lock Keeper's Inn in Belfast
Peter Robinson

He could earn hundreds of thousands of pounds by dishing the dirt on former lover Iris Robinson, but it’s business as usual for Kirk McCambley at the Lock Keeper’s Inn on the banks of the River Lagan.

The 21-year-old was yesterday back in his apron mixing up frothy coffee drinks for the queues of customers stretching out the door hoping for a glimpse of the young man whose love affair had him featured on the front of every Sunday newspaper.

Although he appeared self conscious and kept his head bowed as he worked, Kirk said he did not mind being photographed or talking to the media as he walked to his car after finishing work yesterday.

He told the Belfast Telegraph that the crowds gathered around the south Belfast cafe were “normal business for a Sunday” as he trudged through the snow and flashing cameras.

When asked how he was handling being catapulted into the focus of media attention, he shrugged — the same way he answered all other questions.

But his new gaggle of customers were not disappointed. Blogger John Junk from north Belfast said it was “like watching Monica Lewinsky at work”.

“It is amazing after the news of the last few days that you can just come down here and see the man at the centre of the scandal,” he said.

“It has clearly been amazing PR for this business. It’ll definitely be on the tourism trail now.

“If I were him I would be on to Max Clifford to see how much I could make in magazine deals and limit which journalists I spoke to. He has got an amazing story.”

Ironically Kirk has also become an icon for the gay community for bedding the woman who became a hate figure among them for saying homosexuality was worse than sexually abusing children.

Attitude Magazine is just one of the publications believed to be trying to nab the young businessman for a photoshoot and in depth interview about the affair, which is reported to have lasted as long as five months.

The BBC Spotlight programme revealed that after the pair parted, Iris told her advisor Selwyn Black in a text message: “He was reasonably OK on it. I am not.”

She later attempted to take her own life.

London PR guru Max Clifford, who brokered the story on David Beckham’s affair with Rebecca Loos — which also infamously involved a series of text messages — has said Kirk could earn a six figure sum for telling his story.

While Kirk is unafraid of talking to journalists at the moment, he has not yet spoken in detail about his affair with Mrs Robinson.

“It really all depends on what the lad wants to do,” Mr Clifford told the Sunday Life.

“But if he wanted to talk and provide details on his story, we’d be talking hundreds of thousands for different deals.

“Everyone wants to know everything about Kirk’s story at the minute and we’d be talking huge sums for it.”

The cafe is just yards from where another top DUP figure spectacularly fell from grace. The Ramada Hotel near Shaw’s Bridge was where former Newry and Armagh MLA Paul Berry stood down after accepting a “sports massage” from a gay man named Gary. Mr Berry later resigned from the party.

Back at the bustling Lock Keeper’s Inn yesterday, young friends Peter Magill from Holywood, Shaun Carey from Australia and Sean Barry from Belfast also came down to the cafe to see Kirk in the flesh.

“Yes, we came down to get a look at him,” said Peter.

“It is great publicity for him because business is clearly booming.”

Some of the locals were perplexed by the Kirk-spotters. Norman Apsley was also on his first trip to the cafe but he said that was because of the snow which he said made the tracks “easier to walk on”.

“We have not been down here for years even though we live fairly close,” he said. “We were going to drive down to one of the National Trust properties for a walk but then thought this is right on our doorstep.

“I have sympathy for the young man. I think people should be able to get on with their lives.”

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