Iris Robinson's affair drive her to the rink of suicide How cruelly ironic her name seems today. Their lavish lifestyle, including fast cars and three homes in London, Belfast and Florida, have earned them the nickname 'Swish Family Robinson'. Might it now all be at risk? Let's start at the beginning of this extraordinary, and still unfolding, story which has already sent shockwaves through Westminster and Stormont. On Wednesday, Mr Robinson, 61, held a 'press briefing' at his Belfast home.
Inside, a small group of political journalists and TV crews were given a statement from year-old moral crusader Mrs Robinson. Mrs Robinson was not in the house when the bombshell was dropped, but her husband of nearly 40 years was waiting in his study to face the cameras.
It was the equivalent of Gordon Brown sitting in Downing Street and baring his soul about being cuckolded on, say, News at Ten. Kirk McCambley was only 19 when had the affair with Mrs Robinson Mr McCambley leaves the Lock Keeper's Inn in South Belfast yesterday 'I do not want to return to this subject and I am determined to try to put this issue behind me,' Mr Robinson stressed at the end of the most traumatic and emotionally charged public appearance of his career.
That was never going to happen. Apart from anything else, the confession left two glaring questions: And who was the other man? He was just 19 at the time. Peter Robinson tells the media he has forgiven his wife for the affair Like the big-screen Mrs Robinson, she was also a close family friend who had known Mr McCambley since he was a boy.
Certainly, one should not underestimate the fallout from this flurry of lurid headlines. So why has it all come to light now? In fact, the reporter working on the investigation had already turned up at Stormont with a microphone and a series of allegations to put to Mr Robinson on Tuesday.
He declined to meet him, but organised his own 'press conference' the following day. If so, he was sadly mistaken. It was broadcast late on Thursday night. The youthful Mr McCambley agreed to be interviewed. She looked out for me and made sure I was OK, and obviously anyone who has lost a parent knows it's an incredibly hard time and she was there to help.
Yet this is not the whole story. Peter and Iris, who were childhood sweethearts, pictured with their three children Jonathan left , Gareth and Rebekah, in Why were Fraser and Campbell so generous? Spotlight says that at the time Mrs Robinson was asking them to help Kirk McCambley, she also lobbied on Campbell's behalf for one of his building projects in her parliamentary constituency of Strangford.
Both Mr Campbell and Mrs Robinson deny any wrongdoing. Another equally serious allegation is that Mrs Robinson did not, according to the programme, declare her financial interest in the venture, despite sitting on the council that awarded the tender to her teenage lover, and that she also failed to register her connection with the scheme on her declaration of interests at Stormont and Westminster.
Mr Robinson, for his part, is accused of failing to alert the appropriate watchdog bodies that his wife may have broken Parliamentary rules and codes, a charge vehemently denied by the politician yesterday. Recent events have inevitably focused attention on the state of their marriage.
Back then, she had an unflattering bubble perm and he wore thick-rimmed glasses, with an unfashionable haircut to match. It was an image more in keeping, rightly or wrongly, with their born-again Christian views, which has resulted in Mrs Robinson declaring homosexuals 'vile' and advising them to seek psychological help. The couple were, in fact, childhood sweethearts who grew up on loyalist council estates in Belfast before meeting at technical college, where a year-old Mrs Robinson, or Iris Collins as she was, had begun studying shorthand and typing.
It was a surefire way of getting his attention. Mrs Robinson chose publicly to deny the gossip in an interview in Iris and Peter Robinson on their wedding day in 'All this innuendo and whispering got into the chattering classes and we knew we were being talked about.
Friends told me what was being said. It was hard to take. We weren't the only ones. But we treated the remarks with contempt. The things that were said were totally stupid. Mrs Robinson's glamorous looks have drawn comments that she has gone under the surgeon's knife.
So the latest allegations of financial impropriety are particularly unwelcome for the Robinsons and left the Northern Ireland First Minister fighting for his political life last night. Otherwise it would appear his position as First Minister is questionable.
But it's the sexual impropriety with a man young enough to be her grandson which is likely to cause most personal damage. Others, who, no doubt will want to dredge up every lurid detail will get no help from me. Share or comment on this article: Most watched News videos.