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N Ireland leader vows to clear name over wife`s lover

Last Updated: Saturday, January 9, 2010 - 10:03

Belfast: Northern Ireland’s First Minister Peter Robinson said he was determined to clear his name over allegations he knew about financial dealings linked to his wife`s affair with a teenage lover.
Robinson ordered an official inquiry into his conduct on discovering his politician wife Iris had secured GBP 50,000 from two wealthy developers to help her then 19-year-old lover set up a restaurant.

He said his wife had kept secret both the affair and the nature of the donations she obtained.

"I had no information," he said. "Absolutely no information about that, nor of any of the other financial arrangements, which is hardly surprising if somebody is hiding an affair from you, it`s probably not a surprise they are hiding the other arrangements relating to that affair."

The story of the affair emerged this week in an emotionally-charged admission by Robinson and his wife, who tried to commit suicide last year while suffering from depression.

But it developed into a political crisis after a BBC TV documentary revealed that Iris Robinson, 60, had secured the donation for her lover Kirk McCambley.

McCambley, now 21, refused to comment about the allegations.

Iris Robinson, who is an MP but announced her resignation last month on health grounds, faces charges that she failed to declare her financial interest since she sat on the council which approved the business project.

More seriously for her husband, it is claimed that he became aware of the situation but failed to alert the appropriate watchdog authorities, which would be a breach of parliamentary rules.

Peter Robinson admitted some of the details revealed in the documentary "came as a shock to me", but he was defiant, saying: "I have consistently indicated that I have done nothing wrong, that I acted properly.”

"But me believing that and saying it in my view is not sufficient because I am being, if you like, tried by the press and therefore I think that we need to have an investigation."

It emerged that Robinson`s partner at the head of the power-sharing government, Sinn Fein`s Martin McGuinnness, has also requested that officials seek legal advice over the allegations against the Robinsons.

The new revelations come amid heightened tension between Robinson`s pro-British Democratic Unionists (DUP) and its partners in the power-sharing government in Belfast, Sinn Fein.

T DUP and Sinn Fein have shared power since 2007, but concern over a return to violence was fuelled by the death of two British soldiers and a policeman in attacks by dissident republicans last year.

Fresh fears of violence were raised on Friday when a Catholic police officer was seriously injured after a bomb exploded under his car as he was driving to work.

Dissident republicans were blamed for the attack in Randalstown, northwest of Belfast.

Bureau Report

First Published: Saturday, January 9, 2010 - 10:03
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