N. Ireland Anti-Gay Politician Caught in Underage Sex Scandal
Anti-gay North Ireland politician Iris Robinson has admitted to an affair with a 20-year-old man.
Robinson, the 60-year-old wife of North Ireland’s First Minister, Peter Robinson, and a lawmaker in her own right, sparked controversy in the summer of 2008, when she claimed that gays could be cured and made heterosexual. Robinson also compared gays to pedophiles, leading to calls for her resignation, saying at a government committee meeting, "There can be no viler act, apart from homosexuality and sodomy, than sexually abusing innocent children." When asked about the remark subsequently, Robinson said, "I cannot think of anything more sickening than a child being abused. It is comparable to the act of homosexuality."
Added Robinson, "I think they are all comparable."
Government officials denounced the remarks, and a citizens’ petition was circulated for sanctions against Robinson; the Northern Irish Prime Minister’s official Web site posted the content of the petition, which declared, "The MP for Strangford has recently suggested that all homosexuals should receive psychiatric treatment to help ’cure’ them.
"These comments are not fitting of... an MP," the petition read. However, parliamentary rules do not provide for sanctions against politicians who express personal opinions, however offensive some might find those opinions to be.
The North Irish political world was stunned when Robinson announced late last year that she would finish her term as Minister of Parliament but not sit in at Parliamentary functions; she said that she would not seek re-election at the end of her term. Until that time, a fellow member of the Democratic Unionist Party would occupy her place at Parliament, reported a Dec. 29, 2009 Times Online article. Robinson said that she had arrived at the decision due to a struggle with depression: "The stress and strain of public life comes at a cost and my health has suffered," she said in a statement.
"Over the years, I have undergone a long series of operations and though I have never talked about it publicly, I have, against this background, also battled against serious bouts of depression," Robinson’s statement continued. "Only those who have faced similar challenges in life will know the ordeal faced by those who are profoundly depressed and the distress caused to those around them as they grapple with personality changing illness."
Robinson went on to say, "When I am better able to do so, I want to say more about this period of my life."
Robinson did address the issue once more, revealing on Jan 6 that she had had an affair with a younger man, and attributing the brief relationship to changes in her personality brought about by mental health issues, The Times Online reported in a Jan. 7 article. Robinson also said that she had confessed the affair to her husband, and that she had made a suicide attempt.
Mr. Robinson, who stood by his wife during the controversy occasioned by her anti-gay remarks and defended those comments as being faith-based, admitted that he had weighed leaving Mrs. Robinson, but said that he came to forgive her. "I love my wife. I have always been faithful to her," said Mr. Robinson.
"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," Mr. Robinson continued. "More important, I know that she has sought and received God’s forgiveness."
Affair Began "Completely Innocently"
"I fought with those I loved most, my children and friends, saw plots where none existed and conducted myself in a manner which was self-destructive and out of character," Mrs. Robinson said. "During this period of mental illness I lost control of my life and did the worst thing that I have ever done. Over a year and a half ago, I was involved in a relationship" with the then-19-year-old son of a family friend.
"It began completely innocently when I gave support to someone following a family death," added Mrs. Robinson. "I encouraged friends to assist him by providing financial support for a business venture.
"Regrettably the relationship later developed into a brief affair," Mrs. Robinson added. "It had no emotional or lasting meaning but my actions have devastated my life and the lives of those around me. Everyone is paying a heavy price for my actions. Psychiatrists may suggest that my mental illness was a significant factor explaining my irrational behavior. I do not in any way question or doubt their judgment. But in order to master my life I do not want to dilute the blame or resist taking full responsibility for my actions. I am completely ashamed and deeply embarrassed."
The Times Online reported in a separate Jan. 7 item that the BBC had been investigating the Robinsons’ financial affairs. Mrs. Robinson had attempted to claim a number of luxury items on her government expense account, all of which claims were denied; a public backlash gathered momentum against the DUP when it was revealed that the Robinsons, due to payment for multiple roles in the government, received a combine income of over a half million Irish pounds, with another £150,000 coming from government coffers to pay salaries for several of their relatives and children.
The BBC News ran an in-depth story on Jan. 8, delving into the Robinson’s financial affairs, allegations that Mrs. Robinson had violated the law with respect to helping her young paramour obtain funds for his business venture, and the £50,000 that Robinson reportedly secured from two investors. The article also reported that Robinson took a fee of £5,000 for herself. The deal later fell apart. The article reported that both Peter and Irish Robinson had broken the law, Irish Robinson through her financial dealings, and Peter Robinson by failing to report his wife’s activities. Mr. Robinson, the BBC News reported, asserted that his actions had been proper at every turn.
The younger man was identified as Kirk McCambley, now 20, the son of the late Billy McCambley, who had been a friend of Mrs. Robinson.
Text at a Kirk McCambley Appreciation Society Facebook page says that the page is "Dedicated to the 19 year old victim of a vicious Cougar named Iris Robinson. Attacked on the Lagan Towpath 2 years ago--he could do nothing to defend himself. Protect our young people from this evil beast!" Comments posted at the site by visitors range from in tone from political to satiric.