A very public return to the limelight as Iris Robinson meets Queen
Iris Robinson has made her first public appearance in more than a year.
The disgraced politician, who has not been seen for 17 months, accompanied her husband, First Minister Peter Robinson, to the State banquet in Dublin Castle in honour of the Queen last night.
Dressed in a figure-hugging green fishtail dress and sporting a neat shoulder-length light brown hairstyle complete with sparkling emerald earrings and her trademark heavy black eyeliner, Mrs Robinson appeared relaxed and happy when she embraced Irish President Mary McAleese before shaking hands with the Queen and Prince Philip.
The 62-year-old, who was too ill to attend last month's Royal wedding in London, curtseyed and displayed a huge, confident smile when she greeted the monarch during an official line-up.
Mr and Mrs Robinson had arrived at the historic venue before 7pm. During the event Iris, who was seated between British ambassador Julian King and Ireland's Chief Justice John L Murray, chatted freely and laughed at a number of jokes which formed part of President McAleese's speech.
She listened intently, toasted and heartily applauded Queen Elizabeth inside St Patrick's Hall.
Her appearance at the lavish banquet was widely seen as the first difficult step in her reintegration into public life.
The former Strangford MP quit politics in 2009 amid the scandal surrounding her affair with teenager Kirk McCambley. She stepped down from the DUP and withdrew from public life to receive intensive treatment for depression at an exclusive London clinic after it was revealed that she had borrowed £50,000 from two property developers to set her young lover up in business.
Last month she made a brief, low-key appearance at her mothert’s funeral service in Co Armagh.
Meanwhile, also among the 172 guests dining on Irish beef and champ with the Queen, Prince Philip and Prime Minister David Cameron were Foreign Secretary William Hague — who is accompanying the Royal couple on their four-day visit to Ireland — PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott, poet Seamus Heaney and Cardinal Sean Brady.
Also in attendance were several senior politicians from Northern Ireland, including Ulster Unionist Party leader Tom Elliott, Alliance leader David Ford, the SDLP's Margaret Ritchie and Stormont Speaker Willie Hay.