Belfast Telegraph

Local figures give their reaction to Robinson revelations

By CT reporters

As details emerged that Iris Robinson, a Castlereagh Borough councillor, had attempted to suicide following an extramarital affair, The CT spoke to local figures within east Belfast, and the couple's party colleagues, to get their reaction.

POLITICAL

Mayor of Castlereagh Lawrence Walker (DUP), a party colleague of the Robinson's, said: “My thoughts and prayers, and I'm sure those of all my party colleagues, are with the whole Robinson family as a whole.”

Castlereagh Councillor Michael Copeland (UUP) said: “Iris Robinson has not been visible at Castlereagh Council for some time.

“Regrettably it has been obvious that there were some problems of a medical nature.

“I share the view that it is a private matter and would not be willing to comment any further.”

Belfast City Councillor for east Belfast's Pottinger ward, John Kyle (PUP), said: “I think it is very sad for him personally and a very difficult time for him and his family. It is clearly something Iris regrets and has taken its toll on her health.

“I feel it is a time to give support rather than take political advantage over the situation.

“While I do not agree with some of his political decisions, I think Peter Robinson is a very able politician and will continue to work diligently.”

Fellow Belfast City Councillor for east Belfast's Victoria ward, Jim Rodgers (UUP), said: “As one who has known both of them over a number of years, I am extremely sympathetic and my thoughts are with them.

“These things can happen in life unfortunately. As far as I'm concerned I hope they are able to strengthen their marriage again.

“Peter Robinson is a very experienced and astute politician, and while he and I may be from different political parties I don't think it will effect his ability as a politician.

“Those of us who are in public life realise you have to separate your public and private lives.”

DUP Deputy Leader Nigel Dodds said: “On behalf of the members of the DUP, I want to extend to Peter and the Robinson family our heartfelt prayers and support at this incredibly difficult time.

“I know that rank-and-file members and supporters of our party, in common with the wider community in Northern Ireland, have been deeply moved by Peter’s statement. He has demonstrated a level of bravery and courage that very few in public life possess.

“Peter Robinson’s contribution to the Unionist resurgence in Northern Ireland over recent years has been immeasurable. He is the undisputed leader of Unionism and we all offer our full and total support at this time.

North Down and Ards Councillor Jonathan Bell (DUP) said: “Peter Robinson will be in our thoughts and prayers as he prevails against these most adverse of circumstances but prevail he will.

“Given the long and dedicated service he has given, and his dedication to the people of Northern Ireland, we can only admire his vocation and commitment to us by continuing in his First Minister role.

“May God sustain him and give him the grace to lead us for many years to come.

“My thoughts and prayers are with Iris for a full recovery.”



COMMUNITY

Terry Hoey, chairman of east Belfast's Palmerston Residents' Association, said: “I'm pretty shocked. Everyone has their problems but he looked absolutely devastated on TV last night.

“We hope he/they can recover from this. He always spoke confidently but I don't think he should have went on TV like that because he looked a broken man.

“We're wondering will it affect his work in east Belfast. We wouldn't like to see him go. The vast majority of people in east Belfast would be behind him. Our greatest sympathy is with him.”

Mark Houston, director of East Belfast Mission, said: "I'm saddened and surprised at the news. I think we can see how the pressures of public life can get to people sometimes.

"What I will say however is that over the last year Peter Robinson has shown great leadership in his role as First Minister and to me it hasn't affected his public role.

"People in east Belfast are very savvy. They will be shocked in what they have read and heard but after all this dies down they will continue with their own lives and worry much more on issues such as the economy, cold weather payments etc."

Mr Houston added that the East Belfast MP had been a good friend to the East Belfast Mission in the past by giving help and advice on a number of issues.



RELIGIOUS

Reverend Dr Gary Mason, from the East Belfast Mission, said: “They should be allowed to rebuild their lives in private. It is unfortunate but both are entitled to rebuild their relationship in the Christian framework and that is what they want to do.

Reverend Nigel Kirkpatrick, St Dorothea's Gilnahirk, said: “This is a very tragic situation for both of them and from both of their perspectives it is going to be difficult.

“We have been praying for them in our church and we will continue to do so in the coming weeks. I hope they manage to get their problems sorted.

“In listening to the First Minister's statement, it is clear that their faith is a great comfort to them.

“When we seek God's forgiveness we will receive it. It is now important that they can forgive each other.”





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