Insiders say First Minister Peter Robinson unlikely to survive crisis
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The North's First Minister Peter Robinson is unlikely to remain in power as he tries to survive the latest lurid headlines about his wife, which have angered many within his own party.
Most analysts now believe that the DUP leader and North's First Minister will not survive the latest scandalous revelations about Iris Robinson and the possible part he played in not reporting loans she got from local authorities.
With British elections set for June at the latest, party colleagues are concerned that the right wing Traditional Unionist Voice party led by party dissident Jim Allister will make major gains if Robinson is still in power and the scandal continues.
His most likely successor is said to be Deputy leader Nigel Dodds, who is considered a hardliner.
Robinson has already been asked to step down by some his colleagues in the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). One of his senior colleagues told the media there was "no hope" for him and that he should step down immediately.
If he does, the Irish and British governments have made it clear that an election may be called within a week if a new leader is not elected.
Sinn Fein, the power-sharing partner in Northern Ireland, may prefer an election at that point, believing that a new leader would continue to resist the devolving of police and justice issues to Northern Ireland.
On Monday, members of the DUP were gathering at Stormont to determine Robinson's future in the party.
Northern Secretary Shaun Woodward said that Robinson "must be allowed the time and space" to solve his personal issues with Iris Robinson.
“The British and Irish governments won’t allow the political process and the peace process to be put at any kind of risk. The British and Irish governments will work relentlessly to preserve the political process and the peace process. Any politician who would put that at risk will not be forgiven." said Woodward.
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