Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

McGuinness urges Robinson to talk about £5 land deal

Iris and Peter Robinson at their home in Belfast. 18/4/89.
Iris and Peter Robinson at their home Gransha Rd Belfast. 18/4/89.
Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson is under pressure to quit

Martin McGuinness has added to the pressure on Peter Robinson by claiming the DUP leader has questions to answer over his involvement in a £5 land deal.

The Deputy First Minister said he wanted to hear an explanation from the First Minister after it emerged the deal was instrumental in allowing the Robinsons to make hundreds of thousands of pounds from selling their garden.

Mr Robinson and his wife Iris bought the Fort Road strip for just £5 from late property developer Fred Fraser in April 2005.

A year and a half later the Robinsons sold the land — which was within a proposed housing development and close to their back garden — for the same price to another developer.

That developer bought part of the back garden of their Gransha Road home for almost £460,000 — the same day the Robinsons sold the strip to the company — the ‘gateway’ to the proposed development. The strip was considered valuable because its worth was tied in with other plots in the proposed housing scheme.

Professional valuers told the BBC it would have been worth around £75,000 at the time the Robinsons bought it and at least £220,000 when they sold it.

Last night, Mr McGuinness said he wanted to hear an explanation from the First Minister.

“I think, like everyone else, we will wait to hear what he has to say about this. He hasn't yet spoken and I think we are best only to pass judgment in the aftermath of hearing what his view is.”

A DUP spokesman hit out at the Deputy First Minister saying the public was “more interested in the questions Martin McGuinness has to answer about his involvement in the IRA's terrorist campaign” than they were about “any questions” he was asking others.

Earlier in a statement the party said its leader sold his land and that there were no tax implications.

“The sliver of land was bought for £5 and sold for £5, a fact that has never been hidden, and Mr Robinson derived no financial benefit whatsoever from the transaction. There were a number of other access possibilities and the sliver of land was not essential for access.”

Yesterday, a further DUP statement said that “Mr Robinson was not present at any meetings where issues about the planning approval for this land were raised.

“No registration was considered necessary as no financial gain was accrued and the sliver in question was purchased for £5.”

While the DUP has insisted its leader has nothing to answer, the revelations have raised more questions about the Robinson’s links with the now deceased Mr Fraser.

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