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Sam Smyth: Conversations monopolised by revelations but Iris left in a state

The public shame that has followed revelations of her fling with teenager Kirk McCambley has left Iris Robinson in a pitiful state, unable to cope and undergoing acute psychiatric treatment.

Although she attempted suicide when her husband found out about her affair last March, Mrs Robinson managed to get over her initial reaction and the turmoil in her private life.

She only buckled when the grisly details of her sex-and-money relationship with a 19-year-old family friend were about to become public knowledge.

Convincing information about the seriousness of her illness has ruled out the suspicions sceptics and cynics whispered that her illness might be a political convenience.

DIY psychoanalysts are having a field day exploring the most bizarre, outlandish and even daft theories of the older-woman, younger-man attraction. The resulting psychobabble is annoying and often just a thinly-veiled excuse for prurience.

Media savvy types refer to Sadie Frost, Demi Moore and Sam Taylor-Wood who have relationships with younger men, ignoring the fact that these are single women who do not profess bible-belt values.

Mrs Robinson is a Christian who is an enthusiastic participant, but after her suicide attempt, Mrs Robinson seemed to store away her hypocrisy, a phenomenon more often associated with men than women.

How she managed to ignore a breach of trust where she had an affair with the son of a friend, who had asked on his deathbed for her to look out for his son, is hard to reconcile.

But she put it all into storage until the branding of her as a scarlet woman became inevitable -- and then she snapped.

Although they presented themselves as a loving couple, Peter and Iris were an odd couple.

Their wealth and life-style was at odds with the people from whom they came -- people who admire modesty and restraint.

It is now easier to see them as Peter and Iris Robinson Inc -- a commercial and political corporate entity with their private life as a prop to sell their public image.

Irish Independent