Ousted unionist politician Peter Robinson has said he will not be pushed from his position as First Minister or leader of the DUP by the media.
Mr Robinson, who sensationally lost his East Belfast Westminster seat to the Alliance Party’s Naomi Long last Thursday, denied remaining in the two top posts would damage his party. And he repeated his intention to clear his name in relation to allegations of financial impropriety that emerged at the start of the year.
Speaking to UTV yesterday, Mr Robinson said: “I appreciate the support of my colleagues and indeed all of those who came to see me and telephoned and texted and sent emails.
“Leaving aside the personal circumstances around me, this was a remarkably good election for the DUP. We have seen off our two unionist opponents. The TUV is decimated, they are on the floor. The UUP strategy was rejected by the electorate of Northern Ireland so in the context of the party politics within unionism there has been a very strong endorsement of the policy strategy of the DUP and I’m comforted by that.”
He continued: “But I do recognise around myself the election came too soon for me to be able to clear myself through various inquiries of the groundless allegations that have been made.
“I’m not quitting. I am doing the job I have been elected to do but I’m not hanging onto office. I had the opportunity last January when it would have been ideal from my point of view to walk away. Since then I have been a punch bag for all thepress allegations as they tried to fill their newspapers and make their programmes important.”
And rejecting the notion his personal scandal has damaged the DUP, he said: “Nothing I have done has damaged my colleagues. They all got returned.
“Let me be very clear, whatever is best for the DUP and Northern Ireland is my priority. If Peter Robinson walking into the sunset is best for Northern Ireland and the DUP then that is what I would do, but we will not allow the Press to make that judgment. We will make those judgments ourselves.”