Belfast Telegraph

Privacy plea as Iris Robinson returns home

Northern Ireland's First Minister Peter Robinson last night asked the media to give his family privacy after confirming that his wife, Iris, had returned home after undergoing psychiatric treatment.

Mrs Robinson has ended nearly nine months in exile in London, where she had been receiving counselling at a top clinic following revelations earlier this year that she had an affair with a teenager 41 years her junior as well as controversial financial dealings with property developers.

The first minister asked for privacy to allow his wife to continue on the road to recovery.

Mrs Robinson returned to Northern Ireland on Saturday night by ferry from Liverpool. She was met by family members at Belfast port and returned to the family home in east Belfast.

The Democratic Unionist Party last night remained silent on Mrs Robinson's return.

The shamed 'first lady' sat in the Northern Ireland Assembly and the House of Commons as MP for Strangford.

Mrs Robinson (61) arranged £50,000 in secret loans for her lover Kirk McCambley (19) to open a new cafe on the banks of the River Lagan in Belfast.

The mother-of-three and her husband, who is leader of the DUP, were dubbed the Swish Family Robinson after it was disclosed that they'd received over £570,000 in salaries and expenses in one year alone.

At the time she left for London, the DUP said Mrs Robinson, who had tried to take her own life after confessing the affair to her husband, was on 24-hour suicide watch while undergoing treatment.

But Mrs Robinson was later photographed on shopping trips in fashionable and exclusive parts of London.

Meanwhile, a controversial new play inspired by the sex scandal surrounding Mrs Robinson will shortly open in Belfast.

'God's Country' was written by Colin Bell (33), a gay man from Bangor, Co Down, after Mrs Robinson in 2008 sparked a huge row by calling homosexuality "an abomination", which she said made her sick.

Mr Bell, who lives in Edinburgh with his long-term partner, said: "Iris Robinson may have been engaged in a homophobic rant but my play isn't a rant against her.

"It is an examination of how other politicians in Northern Ireland are dealing with homosexuality. And it also explores how the DUP have changed in the wake of Irisgate."

Belfast Telegraph

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