Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Varied lives of first wives

They are both grandmothers married to the two most powerful men in Northern Ireland — but that’s where the similarity between our two first ladies ends.

Iris Robinson, who has been married to First Minister Peter for 40 years, is well known for her controversial views, colourful private life and glitzy fashion sense.

The Robinsons’ relationship is well documented, with Peter describing his wife in her 2006 biography, Iris: An Intimate Portrait, as his “dream girl”.

But what about Bernie McGuinness, wife of Deputy First Minister, Martin?

After more than a year avoiding the spotlight for well publicised reasons, Iris was back in front of flash bulbs only a fortnight ago making a spectacular public return in Dublin during the Queen’s historic visit to Ireland.

Bernie McGuinness on the other hand has always seemed content to stay well out of the limelight. But while Bernie cuts a homelier figure than glossy Iris, she too has dutifully supported her husband at election counts throughout the years but is rarely photographed or interviewed.

She stepped briefly in front on the Press cameras last month by joining Martin and their two sons as he was re-elected an MLA for Mid-Ulster.

Bernie wore a loose fitting, comfortable linen tunic — in sharp contrast to Iris’ form-fitting style.

For the full story, see this week's Sunday Life.

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