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Peter must pack up politics and spend more time with his family

I'm no political pundit so I won't even attempt to comment on the state of play up at Stormont this week. But I will say this: if I were in Peter Robinson's shoes, I'd throw in the towel, resign from office completely and do it this week.

For, as the revelations surrounding Iris Robinson continue to tumble out of the closet, I fear that Peter will be pushed beyond breaking point.

No mere mortal should have to put up with this level of public humiliation and still be expected to make profoundly serious and historical decisions.

Iris Robinson is very ill, so we are told, and she may have been very ill for some time.

So now we may view her personal flamboyance, her domestic extravagance, her homophobic outbursts and her allegedly obsessive love for a man young enough to be her grandson in a whole new light.

However, we must also ask ourselves: if Iris was so unpredictable in her behaviour, why was she allowed to continue in public office for so long?

And was it because the Robinson family was drawing down nine or 10 salaries between them? Or was it because Peter Robinson loved his wife so much that he couldn't bear to pull the rug from underneath her?

Either way, the show is over, I'm afraid. A political party built on the Bible cannot survive a scandal of this magnitude.

Neither Peter nor Iris committed murder, but the parties that have rubbed shoulders with murderers never claimed they were doing God's work up at Stormont (as far as I'm aware) and that's the difference, you see. It is called hypocrisy.

A writer can go on writing even when he is drunk. A singer can go on singing even when he is stoned. And an artist can go on painting even when he is delusional.

But an MP, unfortunately, must have some sort of grip on reality when they have access to the public purse and influence over planning proposals and so on.

So even though I have nothing but sympathy for Peter and Iris Robinson, I do feel it would be better for both of them to leave the spotlight now and go somewhere peaceful and look after themselves and each other.

If my husband left me to go to work, after I'd just tried to kill myself, I would feel very abandoned and utterly unloved.

Just for the record, the one time I did faint (after appearing on live television during a book tour) my husband drove all the way to Dublin to fetch me home and then took two weeks of annual leave to look after me. And that was only a silly faint! So for Peter to return to work after Iris's suicide bid seems to me to indicate that he has also completely lost perspective.

The man has probably been so stressed for so long he is almost immune to stress. Is that the sort of leader we want to have at the helm?

I'm a great believer in knowing when to call it a day. I don't like feeling stressed myself, so I won't sign up to anything that will put me under undue stress.

I will walk away from difficult situations if I know in my heart that I can do nothing to help, or if that help will be rejected. Or if my actions will leave my husband and daughter feeling neglected.

So I do think it's time for Peter Robinson to step down fully. There are other people who can take up his political burdens.

There are other people who can fill the role of First Minister, MP, MLA and leader of the DUP. I think Peter has done enough.

If I were Peter Robinson, I'd gather my family around me. I'd sort out the family finances once and for all. I'd pay back anything that was owed.

I'd downsize to a secret location. I'd retire from all work duties immediately and I'd start seeing a psychiatrist myself or at least a very good counsellor.

For this is about more than a toyboy lover and a cafe at Shaw's Bridge.

This is about a married couple being torn apart by the stresses and strains of public life.

This is about a married couple who looked fabulous on the outside, but had lost their way emotionally.

This is about knowing when to take that final bow and exit stage left before the audience starts hurling rotten tomatoes at you. A few months from now, when all the gossip has died down, history may look more favourably upon the House of Robinson.

But, for now, it's time for Peter Robinson to put himself and his family at the top of his agenda.