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Peter Robinson's statement in full

"You will appreciate how devastated I have been about what you have learned from Iris. This has been the most difficult period of my life and I have been deeply hurt by what has happened. I feel the pain of it every day.

"The job we do as politicians places enormous strain on all of us, and at times of heavy criticism and tough decisions it is especially so. I understand that.

"I also understand that in keeping a public profile a politician internalises the stress. It is seen as a sign of weakness to admit to pressure and anxiety. We are each made differently and some of us are more capable than others of weathering these storms in our lives.

"My first knowledge of Iris's inappropriate relationship came about midnight on March 1 last year - the night she tried to take her own life. Each single morning since then I have asked for the strength to carry this burden.

"I admit that my immediate impulse was to walk away from my marriage. I felt betrayed after almost 40 years of being happily and closely bonded together.

"The circumstances I faced, however, caused me to take a different course. Iris, racked by guilt and regret had attempted to take her own life and would certainly have been less likely to recover if I had left. Over time and on calmer reflection I set her inappropriate behaviour against 40 years of bringing up our children - often alone.

"Forty years of selflessly giving me the space to pursue my beliefs; of facing public pressure for the stand that I was taking and having to live with the threats and dangers my position visited upon my family.

"Those were 40 years during which she supported me more than any person could reasonably have been expected to. Forty years where we walked the valley basin as well as the mountain paths - but most of all 40 years during which we shared a strong loving relationship.

"I determined that I could not walk away without making a genuine effort to see if my marriage could be saved. That is the road I am on. It is a road without guarantees but it is not without hope.

"I love my wife. I have always been faithful to her. In a spirit of humility and repentance Iris sought my forgiveness, she took responsibility upon herself alone for her actions and I have forgiven her. More important, I know that she has sought and received God's forgiveness.

"I only ask that if people feel they must judge her, that they find within themselves, as I have done, the gift of doing so with mercy and compassion.

"It is heartbreaking that all the good work that she has done, for so many people, over so many years, will be overshadowed by what she has outlined today.

"I accept that the press have a job to do and they must be free to do it. I know there will be others who, no doubt, want to dredge up every lurid detail. They will get no help from me.

"I want to assure the wider community that I have at all times sought to carry out my public duties diligently, and I will continue to discharge those responsibilities without allowing, as far as lies within me, my personal hurt to limit my endeavours.

"This is a very painful time for my family, and I ask that the media respect our personal privacy while, together, we seek to rebuild our lives.

"I do not want to return to this subject. I am determined to try and put this issue behind me.

"It is my intention to be at my desk tomorrow morning to continue the work that the people of Northern Ireland have entrusted to me. I will be meeting with Martin McGuinness to discuss how we might make real progress.

"I want 2010 to be a better year for all of us."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph