Jude Collins

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Twist and squirm

Well. Where would you start? Religion, sex, politics AND money – there aren’t many headline stories that carry the kind of wallop Peter Robinson’s TV interview carried yesterday. The almost unanimous reaction of the press and other politicians (so far) has been of sympathy for Peter Robinson and for his wife. There are, however, a few questions that require answering. Whether they’ll ever be answered remains to be seen.

1. A TV clip shows Peter Robinson, on the day after his wife’s alleged suicide attempt and confession of her adultery, performing with total equanimity and even cracking jokes in the Assembly. This contrasts strikingly with his demeanour in the interview yesterday – voice hesitant, apparently near to breaking down at times. Why was he apparently not upset at the time of these revelations and very upset about them ten months later?
2. According to newspaper reports, a BBC Spotlight journalist delivered a series of questions to the Robinsons at Stormont yesterday, relating to financial matters, matters that will be looked at in a soon-to-be-shown Spotlight special programme. Is there any connection between this event and the sudden interview Peter Robinson held with selected journalists yesterday?
3. Will we hear more about Iris Robinson’s alleged suicide attempt? What form it took, who found her, what was done? These questions seem worth asking, as without the reference to her suicide attempt, the account of Mrs Robinson’s infidelity would look much more stark.
4. Why did Peter Robinson feel the need to come on TV and tell of his wife’s infidelity? If all the politicians whose spouses are unfaithful were to come on TV and tell the public, they’d have to form a very long queue. But then they see no reason to do so and neither do I. What sense of justice consideres a politician to blame for his or her spouse's infidelity?
5. Is this simply a sex story? If it is, then the journalists should butt out and leave the Robinsons alone - and Peter Robinson should never have called the interview he gave. Or is the interview some kind of diversionary tactic, to deflect from a financial story that is coming up?

Whatever the answer, it’s all certainly given the north’s politics a mainline injection of adrenaline. Given the DUP’s holier-than-thou attitude down the years (remember the refusal to sit in the same studio as Sinn Fein?), it’s hard to resist at least a small sip of the glass marked ‘Schadenfreude’.

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