Saturday 16 December 2017

Fall from grace is no laughing matter for Iris

The Robinsons' heartache should not be met with such gleeful media schadenfreude, writes Patricia Redlich

PATRICIA REDLICH

PEOPLE in the media are positively gleeful. It would seem, on the surface at least, that Northern Protestants are some kind of freak show, and fair game, most particularly if they are female.

Think about it. A vibrant, good-looking 59-year-old woman, married for 40 years, politically active in her own right as an MP and local councillor, deeply embedded in the morally rigorous world that is evangelical Protestantism in Northern Ireland, a woman who has weathered the storm of sectarian politics all her adult life, not least as wife of the head of the DUP and now First Minister of Northern Ireland, with all the pressures that entails -- this woman has an affair with a 19-year-old son of a butcher, and loses it to the point that she abuses her position on the local council to hustle a couple of developers for money to set him up in business.

You don't need to be a psychologist to see that Iris Robinson was not acting in her own best interests. On the contrary, she had everything to lose: her dignity, her husband's love, her children's respect, her marriage, her place in the community. Much was at risk, not least the possibility of exposing her husband Peter's political flank -- which has in fact happened, as opponents, on both sides of the sectarian divide, look for his head on a platter.

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