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Peter Robinson: Iris is getting better. I hope she will be at my side soon

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DUP leader Peter Robinson dedicated his election success to Ronan Kerr, who was murdered as the campaign got under way

DUP leader Peter Robinson dedicated his election success to Ronan Kerr, who was murdered as the campaign got under way

DUP leader Peter Robinson dedicated his election success to Ronan Kerr, who was murdered as the campaign got under way

Peter Robinson believes it will not be long before his wife Iris is again at his side for public appearances.

The DUP leader said she is making steady progress in her battle against mental illness and revealed she was fully engaged with the election campaign that saw him make a triumphant comeback in east Belfast.

“She's improving steadily,” he said.

“And I hope it will not be long before she can be beside me, she gives me support from home and I will be delighted when she feels able to take up a role at my side.”

The First Minister, who thinks the bruising personal experiences of the last two years have made him a better person, smiled as he recounted how his wife has lost little of her enthusiasm for the political game.

“We discussed the campaign,” he said.

“She was never short on giving me advice on what I should be saying and what I should be doing with it.”

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Reflecting on what has been the most turbulent period in his life, the 62-year-old cut a very different figure from the one who lost his Westminster seat a year ago.

Back then the scandal that consumed his wife — involving allegations she helped her teenage lover set up in business — looked set to precipitate an early and ignominious end to his own political career.

The comeback narrative is often cliched and easy to slip into, but in Mr Robinson's case its hard to argue with.

“Everybody goes through difficult times in life,” he said, looking back at 2010.

“And their character is shaped not by the problems that they face but how they face the problems.”

Seasoned commentators, colleagues and rivals alike have detected a softening in someone once considered the iceman of Ulster politics.

He concedes he has changed.

“I think that clearly people change because of the experiences that they have in life and perhaps they become more understanding when they are faced with difficulties,” he said.

But he insists he never considered walking out on politics at the height of the storm around him.

“It would have been very easy, long before the Westminster election to quit, but I am not a quitter,” he said.

“I felt there was a job to be done. I think what we've done in terms of securing peace and stability in Northern Ireland needs to be consolidated.

“I think people like the trajectory of the Assembly, they want us to move forward as a society and when that's firmly established that will be the right time to move on.”


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