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Peter Robinson confirms he turned down House of Lords nomination

Former DUP leader Peter Robinson has confirmed he has turned down a nomination to the House of Lords.

In a statement on his Facebook page, Mr Robinson said he had received messages from the public, following "conflicting stories that have appeared in the print media some expressing surprise that I had not being included on a list of DUP nominees for the House of Lords".

In the post, Mr Robinson cleared up speculation around why he had not been nominated for a peerage.

It was reported at the weekend in the Sunday Life, the Belfast Telegraph's sister paper, former Mid Ulster and South Antrim MP William McCrea, and current MEP Diane Dodds were in line to be nominated for peerages.

Although no mention of Peter Robinson was made in the article, it sparked speculation about why his name was not being put forward.

Mr Robinson, who served as First Minister of Northern Ireland from 2008 to 2016, said: "Some, who have written to me, have asked if my health has deteriorated while others have asked why the party did not propose me or whether I am unhappy with the present leadership."

"Far from the party bypassing me, immediately on my retirement as Party Leader and First Minister I was asked by Arlene and Nigel if the party could nominate me for a Peerage. I thanked them for their thoughtful consideration but declined as I wanted a period to recover from my heart attack and take on new challenges," he wrote.

Mr Robinson had widely been expected to be granted a peerage following his retirement in 2016.

"Happily, I have had no re-occurrence of my heart problem though I am presently recuperating from a recent minor operation. As for my position as it relates to the DUP, I am absolutely, wholeheartedly and unalterably supportive of the party, Arlene and her leadership team."

Mr Robinson said his possible nomination to the House of Lords had been raised with him again by his party colleagues, and he had once again asked them not to proceed with the nomination for "a range of issues".

"Chief among them is that I firmly believe that the party, who are in a confidence and supply agreement with the government (which is hugely beneficial for Northern Ireland), need dedicated working Peers," he said.

"Also, given my business responsibilities and other projects in which I am presently involved including a new commitment I have just undertaken, I would be unable to fulfil this role, at this time, to the standard I believe it deserves."

Downing Street has not made it clear when the next round of appointments to the House of Lords will be made.

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