Outspoken MP George Galloway has come under fire over a trenchant outburst accusing Iris Robinson and the DUP of hypocrisy.
The DUP declined to comment officially on the controversial politician’s attack on the First Minister’s wife while speaking at the West Belfast Talks Back debate this week.
But a senior party source branded the Respect MP’s criticism as “self-serving” and “inappropriate”.
The former Big Brother contestant’s rant came as he shared a stage with senior DUP MP Gregory Campbell, who in turn pointed the finger at Mr Galloway for “playing to the audience”.
The exchange came during a discussion involving homosexuality, which Mrs Robinson branded “an abomination” prior to her stepping down in disgrace as a DUP MP, MLA and councillor over two years ago.
Referring to Mrs Robinson’s affair with a teenager which led to her political downfall, Mr Galloway said: “I’ll tell you what’s perverse. How’s this for perversity? Somebody that attacks other people for breaching traditional ideas of marriage by being gay who — when their husband is in London in Parliament — is rolling around in her husband’s bed with somebody else.
“That’s a perversion of traditional marriage much more so than anyone else’s sexual orientation. If there’s one thing worse than fornication, it’s hypocrisy. And Iris Robinson and hypocrisy and the DUP are oddly forever joined in my mind.”
East Londonderry MP Mr Campbell accused Mr Galloway of playing to the mainly nationalist audience, who were gathered in the main hall of St Louise’s Comprehensive on the Falls Road.
Mr Campbell also said the Scottish politician was guilty of his own hypocrisy, pointing out that Mr Galloway had been on a radio show earlier that day speaking about a warm relationship with former DUP leader Ian Paisley.
But Mr Galloway retorted that the former Free Presbyterian moderator Mr Paisley would never have been found in bed with another woman.
Iris Robinson decided to resign as an MP, Assembly Member and Castlereagh councillor in January 2010 following revelations of her affair with 19-year-old Kirk McCambley. In the wake of the scandal, the high-profile DUP woman also faced investigation after it emerged she secured loans for her then teenage lover to set up a cafe business.
Mrs Robinson withdrew from all public life as she battled with mental health problems.
She emerged after months of social exclusion last year to attend a dinner in Dublin in honour of the Queen’s historic trip to the Republic, but has yet to speak in public about the affair.