Northern Ireland’s torrid Mrs. Robinson scandal unfolded further today, as newspaper reports suggested the wife of First Minister Peter Robinson may have been involved with both father and son.
There is “widespread belief” that she had a relationship not just with the 19-year-old Kirk McCambley, but also with his father Billy, according to today’s London Independent.
Billy was a butcher in east Belfast, who died in February 2008 of cancer. Before he died he is said to have asked Iris Robinson to take care of his son.
That she most certainly did. She befriended Kirk and apparently helped him obtain £50,000 ($80,000) from property developers to start up his own business running a cafe. In her role as an official in the local council of Castlereagh, she obtained approval for the project, without ever declaring her relationship with Kirk, according to reports.
And at some point her relationship with the 19-year-old Kirk McCambley became sexual. Mrs. Robinson was 59 at the time. The relationship ended last autumn and Mrs. Robinson asked McCambley to return the money.
Peter Robinson, Democratic Unionist Party leader, knew about the affair from March 2009. He was trying to keep his hands clean of financial matters, according to the Irish Times.
Mrs. Robinson is a member of the Light ’n’ Life Church at Dundonald, Co Antrim. She is well known for her strong conservative views, and had spoken out against homosexuality. The Democratic Unionist Party, which she also represents politically as a member of parliament, is profoundly religious and supportive of family values.
The scandal has thrown the DUP into disarray, and its potential repercussions are broad. If Sinn Fein were to become the biggest party in the Northern Ireland Assembly it could elect the First Minister, the Independent report pointed out. This could cause the peace process to unravel.
Peter Robinson has said he will not stand down.