Friday 24 February 2017

Hypocrites like Iris often hoist by own petard

When the First Minister's wife speaks of God's law, presumably she doesn't mean the death penalty for adultery, says Eilis o'Hanlon

If you had to pick the least likely political figure to be caught in a sex scandal, then Iris Robinson, the gay-bashing, Bible-quoting wife of Northern Ireland's First Minister, would be right up there at the top of the list. Or maybe not. The sanctimonious are often hoist by their own petard, it's practically a cliche by now; and the woman who preached that it is the job of government to enforce God's law (though presumably not the one in the Book of Leviticus which says that adulterers should be killed) has lobbed more than her fair share of petards down the years.

The wonder is that it has taken so long for Irish politics to get an Iris Robinson-shaped scandal of its own. Elsewhere, it has long been the job of political spouses to bring grief to their exalted other halves. Take Cherie Blair, who provided a string of embarrassing headlines during Phony's 10 years in Downing Street, from her penchant for pocketing lucrative freebies to roping her long-suffering husband into a mud-smeared New Age rebirthing ceremony while on holiday in Mexico. Or there was the husband of former UK home secretary Jacqui Smith, whose taste in pay-per-view porn films became public knowledge when the charges inadvertently ended up on her expense account.

Nancy Reagan was mocked when it was revealed that she used astrology to organise her presidential husband's schedule; more recently, Carla Bruni, wife of French president Nicolas Sarkozy, was to be heard loudly expounding her view that monogamy is unnatural. Across the border in Italy, the estranged wife of Silvio Berlusconi has spent the last year hounding her husband through her media outlets for his various alleged indiscretions. Meanwhile, the wife of Japan's prime minister rather delightfully claims to have flown in a triangular-shaped UFO to Venus. She also insists that she likes to tear off bits of the sun and gobble them up to give her energy. As you do.

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