Interesting times in Irish politics. The north-east is to see the departure of veteran DUP leader Peter Robinson, the first minister in the dysfunctional power-sharing administration at Stormont and former poster-boy of the violent Ulster Resistance, following a controversial career that in recent times has been beset with ill-health and potential scandal. SKY News presents a good overview of the rise and fall of a militant political dynasty dubbed the “Swish Family Robinson“:
“He was a Member of Parliament for 30 years and Northern Ireland’s longest-serving First Minister but Peter Robinson’s political success was overshadowed by personal scandal.
In 2010, his wife Iris, who was an MP herself, had an affair with a 19-year-old and lobbied for investment in her young lover’s business.
Days earlier, police had confirmed they were investigating Mrs Robinson, then 59, for describing homosexuality as an “abomination” and claiming gay people could be “cured”.
Her husband, the father of their three children, stood down for six weeks to refute allegations he had failed to report his wife’s business activities.
A former estate agent, Mr Robinson made the switch to politics when the IRA murdered his old school friend, Harry Beggs, in 1971.
Inspired by the firebrand speeches of the Rev Ian Paisley, he joined the campaign to “keep Ulster British” and helped found the Democratic Unionist Party.
He condemned paramilitary violence but was arrested for leading a loyalist invasion of Clontibret in the Irish Republic in protest at the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement.
The Democratic Unionist Party lost the battle over the 1998 Good Friday Agreement but won the political war, eventually displacing the rival Ulster Unionist Party.
Peter and Iris Robinson became the first couple of Northern Ireland politics when he succeeded Rev Paisley as party leader and First Minister in 2007.
With three lavish homes, tabloids branded them “the swish family Robinson” and their final days in power were dominated by questions about their business dealings.”
Questions that have only grown during the ever-expanding NAMA property scandal of the last several months. Understandably many are now worried that the extremist-turned-slight-moderate at the head of the DUP will be replaced by a more explicitly hard-line successor, with several mentioning the unapologetically combative Arlene Foster as a grassroots’ favourite.
Meanwhile in national politics, will-they-won’t-they is the question on most lips in the run-up to next year’s general election as Fianna Fáil continues to be coy when questioned about its potential post-election relationship with Fine Gael. A straightforward coalition between the right-wing and centre-right rivals? Logic and ambition says “yes“, tradition stretching back to the civil war says “no“. However a vote-by-vote agreement in the Oireachtas? Quite possibly.
Meanwhile in the Irish Examiner:
“I might be just a south-county Dublin housewife, but I know more about stopping terrorism than Francois Hollande.”
That would be Victoria White, veteran journalist and newspaper columnist with the Examiner, Irish Independent, Irish Times, Herald and sundry other publications, fiction author, noted eco-actvist, founder of the Irish branch of the Friends of the Earth, former or on-going member of the Green Party, wife of the current Green Party leader and ex-minister, Éamon Ryan, and daughter of the writer Jack White, a senior manager in RTÉ, Ireland’s national public service broadcaster, from 1961 to 1980. Of course, “just a south-county Dublin housewife” reminds one of this…