Belfast: Northern Ireland leader Peter Robinson`s wife has quit as a lawmaker in the wake of the sex and cash scandal which has thrown the British province into political turmoil, officials have said.
Iris Robinson`s resignation came amid conflicting signs of whether the crisis can galvanise rival party leaders into making progress on stalled talks threatening the power-sharing government in Belfast.
Her departure from the Northern Ireland Assembly was expected after she admitted to an affair with a 19-year-old and financial impropriety which forced her husband to stand aside as First Minister in a bid to clear his own name.
Assembly officials announced that she had been appointed Steward and Bailiff of the Three Hundreds of Chiltern – a formal arrangement which allows her to quit as a member of Parliament.
Her husband announced on Monday that he was standing aside for six weeks in a bid to clear his name, prompting concerns the once-troubled province`s already strained administration could collapse altogether.
The British and Irish governments have rallied round, both arguing that the crisis could help focus minds on unblocking talks on transferring police and justice powers from London to Belfast.
Robinson himself has pledged to remain in charge of his Democratic Unionist Party (DUP)`s talks on the crunch issue, and media reports yesterday suggested a deal could be close.