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Kirk 'replaced his late father in every sense'

THE now 21-year-old at the centre of the Iris Robinson affair was not allowed to grieve for his dead father and was manipulated, it was claimed last night.

A source close to the young businessman, Kirk McCambley, came forward to shoot down some of the more unsavoury aspects of the story -- while at the same time confirming the veracity of others.

The source said: "Kirk is a terribly decent guy who got himself into a set of circumstances in which he was manipulated. He has been robbed of the ability to grieve for his father."

Sources say it was Mrs Robinson who organised the funeral for Kirk's father, Billy, who was an alcoholic, in February 2008. It took place at the Light 'n' Life Free Methodist Church in Dundonald, where the pastor is Rev Pat Herron, Peter Robinson's sister.

Her platonic friendship with the teenager soon turned sexual, however, and Kirk later became desperate to disengage.

The liaison with Northern Ireland's former 'first lady' finally ended following a meeting brokered by Mrs Robinson's former political adviser, Selwyn Black.

Mr Black told the BBC Spotlight programme the meeting, which was held at premises on the Lisburn Road in Belfast in December 2007, was to resolve the loans issue.

However, it is understood that it was called principally to put an end to the scandalous affair.

"There is the feeling the son replaced his late father in every sense," the source said.

Mrs Robinson attracted controversy in 2008 when she made controversial remarks about homosexuality, comparing it to child abuse.

"It was while making those comments on the radio that her relationship with Kirk was at its height," revealed the source.

Kirk, who was managing his father's butcher shop when he was just 17, has maintained a stoic silence over the scandal. He is said to be fearful for the future of the cafe, which is leased to him by Castlereagh Borough Council.

"He was not naive and inexperienced in business and he has been doing a good job with the cafe," said the source. "I hope he won't lose his business."

The source added: "Kirk is worried that he will always be known as the man who had an affair with Iris Robinson."

After seven days of non-stop headlines, he probably has every right to be.

Irish Independent