Peter Robinson (politician)
|The Right Honourable
|First Minister of Northern Ireland|
5 June 2008
|Preceded by||Ian Paisley|
|Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party|
31 May 2008
|Preceded by||Ian Paisley|
|Minister of Finance and Personnel|
8 May 2007 – 5 June 2008
|First Minister||Ian Paisley|
|Preceded by||Sean Farren|
|Succeeded by||Nigel Dodds|
|Minister for Regional Development|
24 October 2001 – 11 October 2002
|First Minister||Reg Empey
|Preceded by||Gregory Campbell|
|Succeeded by||Conor Murphy|
29 November 1999 – 27 July 2000
|First Minister||David Trimble|
|Preceded by||Office Created|
|Succeeded by||Gregory Campbell|
|Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly
for Belfast East
25 June 1998
|Preceded by||Constituency Created|
|Member of Parliament
for Belfast East
3 May 1979 – 6 May 2010
|Preceded by||William Craig|
|Succeeded by||Naomi Long|
|Born||Peter David Robinson
29 December 1948
Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK
|Political party||Democratic Unionist Party|
|Spouse(s)||Iris Collins (1970–present)|
|Residence||Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom|
|Alma mater||Castlereagh College|
Peter David Robinson (born 29 December 1948) is a British politician who has been the First Minister of Northern Ireland and Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party since 2008. He has been actively involved in Northern Irish politics since 1970 when he became a founding member of the DUP along with Ian Paisley.
Robinson served as Paisley's Parliamentary Assistant at Westminster prior to assuming the role of the General Secretary of the DUP in 1975, a position which he held until 1979 and which afforded him the opportunity to exert unprecedented influence within the fledgling unionist party. In 1977, Robinson was elected as a councillor for the Castlereagh Borough Council in Dundonald, and in 1979, he became the youngest-serving Member of Parliament (MP) when he was narrowly elected for Belfast East. He held this seat until his defeat by Naomi Long in 2010, making him the longest-serving MP for any constituency in Belfast since the 1800 Act of Union.
In 1980, Robinson was elected as the Deputy Leader of the DUP. Following the re-establishment of devolved government in Northern Ireland as a result of the Good Friday Agreement, Robinson was elected in 1998 as the Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) for Belfast East. Robinson subsequently served as Minister for Regional Development and Minister for Finance and Personnel in the Northern Ireland Executive. Robinson was elected unopposed to succeed Ian Paisley as the Leader of the DUP on 15 April 2008, and was subsequently confirmed as First Minister of Northern Ireland on 5 June 2008.
In January 2010, following a scandal involving his wife Iris and raising allegations regarding their financial affairs, Robinson temporarily handed over his duties as First Minister to Arlene Foster under the terms of the Northern Ireland Act 2006. Following a police investigation, which recommended that Robinson should not be prosecuted following allegations made by the BBC in relation to the scandal, he resumed his duties as First Minister in time to complete the devolution of policing and justice powers to the Stormont Executive on 5 February 2010.
- 1 Background
- 2 Political career
- 3 Political and personal controversies
- 4 Personal life
- 5 Satire
- 6 References and notes
- 7 See also
- 8 External links
- 9 Offices held
Peter David Robinson was born on 29 December 1948 in Belfast, Northern Ireland, the son of Sheila and David McCrea Robinson.
Peter Robinson was educated at Annadale Grammar School, now Wellington College Belfast in Belfast, and studied English and Mathematics at Castlereagh College, now known part of the Belfast Metropolitan College.
Although Robinson's family had no background in unionist politics, Robinson developed an interest in Northern Irish politics as a teenager, resulting in the publication of various political pamphlets, including 'The North Answers Back', which drew the young aspiring politician to the attention of Ian Paisley. Robinson initially gained employment as an estate agent for Alex Murdoch & Deane in Belfast but decided to accept a decrease in salary to become the DUP's first general secretary in 1975.
Member of the DUP
Robinson was General Secretary of the DUP between 1975 and 1979. He first stood in the election to the Northern Ireland Constitutional Convention on 1 May 1975 in Belfast, East. Although he started in fifth place, he failed to get elected being overtaken by his running mate Eileen Paisley.
Member of Parliament and Executive Minister
Robinson was selected as DUP candidate for Belfast East during the 1979 general election, a seat which previously had a big Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) majority. He won the seat with a 19.9% swing to the DUP and a majority of 64, with Alliance Party leader Oliver Napier 928 votes behind, unseating the MP former Vanguard Progressive Unionist Party leader and UUP candidate William Craig on 3 May 1979.
He was re-elected to the House of Commons in 1983, 1986 (along with UUP and DUP MPs he resigned his seat in protest at the Anglo Irish Agreement on 17 December 1985 and was re-elected in the by-election the next year), 1987, 1992, 2001 and 2005. In the 2010 UK general election he lost Belfast East to Naomi Long of the Alliance party.
In the general election on 7 June 2001, Robinson's wife, Iris, joined him in Parliament as MP for Strangford. The Robinsons were the first husband and wife ever to represent Northern Ireland in Parliament.
Robinson was the longest-serving Member of Parliament for any Belfast constituency since the Act of Union in 1800.
Leadership of the Democratic Unionist Party
Robinson's electoral success was marked when he was elected Deputy Leader of the DUP in 1980. He was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly for Belfast East on 20 October 1982 where he served as Chairman of the Environment Committee until it was dissolved in 1986.
In 1986 he was involved, alongside other DUP leaders, in the launch of Ulster Resistance at the Ulster Hall, an event chaired by the DUP. Robinson was later photographed wearing the loyalist paramilitary regalia of beret and military fatigues at an Ulster Resistance rally. Ulster Resistance collaborated with the loyalist paramilitary groups the Ulster Volunteer Force and the Ulster Defence Association in procuring weapons which were used by these organisations in robberies and sectarian murders. The DUP later claimed that they had severed links with Ulster Resistance in 1987
Robinson resigned briefly as DUP Deputy Leader in 1987 when the Task Force Report, written jointly with Ulster Unionists, Harold McCusker MP and Frank Millar and calling for a strategic unionist rethink in the wake of the Anglo-Irish Agreement was rejected by their respective leaders, Ian Paisley and James Molyneaux.
He was elected to the Northern Ireland Forum on 30 May 1996 and served in it until it completed its work in 1998. On 25 June 1998, he was elected MLA for Belfast East in the Northern Ireland Assembly election. He was subsequently re-elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2003 and again in 2007.
Robinson was Minister for Regional Development, which has overall responsibility for the Department for Regional Development (DRD), between 29 November 1999 to 27 July 2000 and 24 October 2001 to 11 October 2002. He was responsible for the introduction of free fares on public transport for the elderly and helped formulate the 25-year Regional Development Strategy for Northern Ireland and devised the 10-year Regional Transport Strategy.
On 4 March 2008, Ian Paisley announced that he would step down as Leader of the DUP and First Minister in May 2008. On 14 April 2008, Robinson was nominated unanimously by the DUP MLAs as leader designate with Nigel Dodds as deputy leader designate of the DUP and on 17 April 2008 they were both ratified by the DUP's 120-member executive committee. He formally became leader on 31 May 2008.
First Minister of Northern Ireland
On 11 January 2010 Robinson announced that he was stepping down from the position of First Minister for a period of six weeks to clear his name over his financial dealings in the midst of the Iris Robinson scandal. Arlene Foster was designated to discharge the duties of First Minister until his return. Robinson faced claims that he knew his wife had obtained £50,000 from two developers for her teenage lover but did not tell the proper authorities, leading to him asking the House of Commons and the Northern Ireland Assembly to carry out an inquiry into his conduct. After an OFMdFM lawyer advised Robinson that he had committed no wrongdoing, "he had no case to answer," he returned to active duty as First Minister despite the ongoing investigations by the police and the Assembly Commissioner Standards and Privileges. While the police investigation into the conduct of the Peter and Iris Robinson concluded in a recommendation not to prosecute in 2011, the Standards and Privileges enquiry remained incomplete three years after it was ordered by the Assembly. It was delayed as Iris Robinson was adjudged medically unfit to respond to the enquiry. The report was finally completed at the beginning of 2014, but remained unpublished due to a legal challenge regarding possible privacy concerns by the solicitor acting for Robinson's wife.
On 5 February 2010, Robinson oversaw the devolution of policing and justice powers from the British Parliament to the Northern Ireland Assembly, negotiating a power-sharing deal with Sinn Féin. This process ensured that devolution in Northern Ireland was able to be fully completed.
At the 2011 Assembly election, both the DUP and Sinn Féin increased their number of seats. Robinson and Martin McGuinness were sworn in for a second term as First Minister and deputy First Minister respectively shortly afterwards.
In 2012, Robinson took part in the historic visit of Queen Elizabeth II to Northern Ireland, where she shook hands with Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness. Robinson supported the event, saying, "We recognise that this will be a difficult ask for Her Majesty The Queen and a significant step for republicans. The process has required us all to reach out and take decisions outside our comfort zone. It is the right decision and a step forward for Northern Ireland."
Political and personal controversies
Invasion of Clontibret
On 7 August 1986, in protest at the Anglo-Irish Agreement, Robinson led a group of 500 loyalists into the village of Clontibret in County Monaghan in the Republic of Ireland. The loyalists attacked the unmanned Garda station in the village and daubbed loyalist slogans on the walls. They then held a quasi-military parade along the main street and attacked two Gardaí. More Gardaí arrived shortly after and fired shots in the air, scattering the loyalist crowd. Robinson was arrested and held at Monaghan Garda station. He pleaded guilty to unlawful assembly and was fined IR£17,500 in a Drogheda court to escape a prison sentence. As a result, Robinson briefly resigned from the DUP deputy leadership. There was also violence both before and after a court appearance in Dundalk, including Ian Paisley being attacked with stones and petrol bombs after Jim Wells and other Robinson supporters waved flags and sang Loyalist songs. At his trial the judge described him as "a senior extremist politician".
In November 1986, he spoke at the Ulster Hall demonstration which launched Ulster Resistance, an organisation which subsequently collaborated with the Ulster Defence Association and Ulster Volunteer Force to import arms from South Africa, resulting in Robinson leaving the organisation. Robinson was photographed wearing the loyalist paramilitary military uniform at an Ulster Resistance demonstration.
At a rally in Enniskillen, Peter Robinson announced; "'Thousands have already joined the movement and the task of shaping them into an effective force is continuing. The Resistance has indicated that drilling and training has already started. The officers of the nine divisions have taken up their duties'.
Views on homosexuality
On 30 October 2008 in his first extensive interview as First Minister interview for Hearts and Minds for BBC Northern Ireland, Peter Robinson publicly stated that homosexuality was against Christian theology.
Robinson's wife, Iris, had said that homosexuality was an abomination and that gay people could be turned around "with help". These comments came the same week that a gay man was badly beaten in a purported homophobic attack. A police investigation was brought on, claiming "her comments breached hate crime laws but no charges were brought." Peter Robinson supported his wife's statements, saying: “It wasn’t Iris Robinson who determined that homosexuality was an abomination, it was The Almighty. This is the Scriptures. It is a strange world indeed where somebody on the one hand talks about equality, but won't allow Christians to have the equality, the right to speak, the right to express their views."
On 28 May 2009 the Planning Service of Northern Ireland granted Robinson planning permission for six houses to be built in his rear garden on the Gransha Road in the Dundonald area of east Belfast.
On 30 March 2010, the BBC reported that Robinson had purchased a piece of land from a developer for £5, enabling him to sell part of his back garden for nearly £460,000. Robinson later claimed that the BBC were leading a smear campaign against him.
BBC Spotlight investigation
On 8 January 2010 the BBC Northern Ireland programme Spotlight reported on how his wife, Iris, had obtained £50,000 for Kirk McCambley, 19 at the time, while she was sexually involved with him. On the day before the Spotlight programme, Peter Robinson had made an emotional statement to the Press Association, BBC, UTV and RTÉ in regard to the relationship and mentioned that there were no financial wrongdoings. The programme maintained that when Robinson found out about the financial aspects of his wife's relationship he insisted that the money she had lobbied two property developers for and which she subsequently lent and gave to her lover be returned in full. It claimed that he did not tell the proper authorities what he knew about the transactions between the four, despite being obliged by the Northern Ireland Executive ministerial code of conduct to act in the public interest at all times. Later that day Robinson's solicitors said he was thoroughly satisfied that he had at all times acted properly and fulfilled all requirements, and would robustly challenge any allegation to the contrary. On the following day, Robinson maintained that he had "learned from Spotlight for the first time some alleged aspects of my wife's affair and her financial arrangements" and that he would be "resolutely defending attacks on my character and contesting any allegations of wrongdoing".
On 11 January 2010 Robinson announced that he was stepping down from the position of First Minister for a period of six weeks. Arlene Foster was nominated as his replacement for this period. Robinson lost his seat in Westminster at the 2010 General Election.
FAIR censorship allegations
According to a report on their website in 2007 Peter Robinson wrote to Willie Frazer, director of the Families Acting for Innocent Relatives (FAIR) non-governmental organisation, telling him he "might find it much easier to get co-operation with political representatives if you were genuinely involved in Victim Support rather than opposition politics". Robinson's principal private secretary was found to have been involved, in February 2010, in trying to have criticism of the DUP's working relationship with Sinn Féin censored from FAIR's website. Ulster Unionist leader Reg Empey asked whether this amounted to party political use of the office. Seven months later FAIR's funding by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) was stopped following allegations of financial irregularities in the group. The Office of First and Deputy First Minister decided that the conclusions of investigations into FAIR's finances will not be made public, although the group, with support from the Ulster Unionists, began legal action to have the findings of the SEUPB investigation made public.
Pastor McConnell support and Islam
In May 2014, Robinson came under criticism for publicly supporting Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle Pastor James McConnell following the pastor's remarks about Islam. In a sermon the pastor had stated "Islam is heathen, Islam is satanic, Islam is a doctrine spawned in hell." Robinson said that like the pastor he would not "trust them" for spiritual guidance, speaking of Muslims who follow a strict interpretation of Sharia law.
On 30 May, leaders of Northern Ireland's Muslim community met with Robinson at Stormont Castle and accepted his apology and his attempts to clarify the situation. He also accepted an invite to the Belfast Islamic Centre.  After meeting members of the Islamic community he said he would be visiting again the Centre, a place where he felt welcome and respected.
Robinson married Iris Collins on 26 July 1970; they have three children, Jonathan, Gareth and Rebekah. His wife has joined him as a councillor, a MLA and a MP. Their son, Gareth Robinson was also member of Castlereagh (borough). They were the first husband and wife ever to represent Northern Ireland constituencies in Parliament. His daughter, Rebekah, served as his private secretary for his Advice Centre in the East Belfast constituency. Hazel Kerr serves as the office's main secretary. He is a supporter of Rangers and Tottenham Hotspur and has expressed admiration for Spurs player Gareth Bale. Robinson is also a fan of his local Belfast football team Glentoran.
He is author of a number of popular books and pamphlets on local politics and history including: The Union Under Fire (1995); Sinn Féin – A Case for Proscription (1993); Hands off the UDR (1990); Their Cry was no Surrender (1986); Ulster in Peril (1984); Carson – Man of Action (1984); It’s Londonderry (1984); A War to be Won (1983); Self-Inflicted (1981); Ulster the Facts (1981); Savagery and Suffering (1975); Capital Punishment for Capital Crime (1974); Give Me Liberty (no date); Ulster—the Prey (no date).
Robinson's character on the BBC's Folks on the Hill television programme is portrayed as aggressive and constantly trying to get away from the Ian Paisley-Martin McGuinness so-called "Chuckle Brothers" image when he works with Martin McGuinness. However it does not appear that he will escape a shared nickname as "Brothers Grimm" is catching on.
References and notes
- "Robinson to follow Paisley path". BBC News. 14 April 2008. Retrieved 15 April 2008.
- "Robinson is new NI First Minister". BBC News. 5 June 2008. Retrieved 15 April 2008.
- "Peter Robinson steps aside as NI First Minister". BBC News. 11 January 2010. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
- "DUP disclose part of Peter Robinson legal advice". BBC News. 18 February 2010. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
- "Northern Ireland Parties agree Power-Sharing Deal". BBC News. 5 February 2010. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
- Dr. Nicholas Whyte. "ARK". ARK. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
- "ARK". ARK. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
- "Robinson resigns from Castlereagh", BBC News, 2 July 2007. Retrieved 5 June 2008.
- "Naomi Long beats Peter Robinson to win in East Belfast"
- "UK Parliament". Parliament of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 15 June 2010.[dead link]
- Devenport, Mark (14 April 2008). "Cooler style of patient Robinson". BBC News.
- Dr Nicholas Whyte. "ARK". ARK. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
- Dr Nicholas Whyte. "ARK". ARK. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
- "Northern Ireland Executive". Northernireland.gov.uk. 29 September 2009. Archived from the original on 22 August 2007. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
- "Paisley to quit as First Minister". BBC News. 4 March 2008. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
- "Robinson to follow Paisley path". BBC News. 14 April 2008. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
- "Robinson confirmed as DUP leader". BBC News. 17 April 2008. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
- "Robinson is new NI first minister", BBC News, 5 June 2008. Retrieved 5 June 2008.
- "Robinson takes six-week break from First Minster role". BBC News. 11 January 2010. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
- Belfast Telegraph report, 21 September 2012
- "NI parties agree deal on policing". BBC News. 5 February 2010.
- "BBC News – Robinson says Sinn Féin right to meet Queen". BBC News.
- "CAIN". Cain.ulst.ac.uk. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
- Dr Martin Melaugh. "CAIN". Cain.ulst.ac.uk. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
- Northern Ireland: A Chronology of the Troubles, 1968–99 by Paul Bew, page 202
- Profile: Peter Robinson: Poised to take reins from the Big Man[dead link]
- Crimes of Loyalty: A History of the UDA by Ian S. Wood (ISBN 0-7486-2427-9), page 133
- "Religion and Violence: The Case of Paisley and Ulster Evangelicals". Irish-association.org. 23 June 1986. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
- "Iris Robinson 'hypocrite' – gay campaigner Tatchell". BBC. 7 January 2010. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
- "First Minister Peter Robinson backs wife's view that gays are an 'abomination'". The Belfast Telegraph. 31 October 2008. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
- "Google maps UK". Google Maps. 1 January 1970. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
- "Robinson 'garden grab' is passed". BBC News. 28 May 2009. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
- "Robinson bought 'key land' for £5". BBC News. 30 March 2010. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
- "Robinson denies land wrongdoing". BBC News. 2 April 2010. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
- Edwards, Richard (7 January 2010). "Iris Robinson's lover named as Kirk McCambley". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 15 June 2010.
- "Iris Robinson business deal broke law". BBC News. 8 January 2010. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
- "Peter Robinson statement in full". BBC News. 6 January 2010. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
- Statement by Peter Robinson, 8 January 2010
- "Letter to Peter Robinson & His Response!". Victims.org.uk. Retrieved 13 May 2012.
- "OFMDFM challenged in victims' website row". Newsletter.co.uk. 6 July 2011. Retrieved 13 May 2012.
- "Empey calls for public release of FAIR report". Newsletter.co.uk. 8 February 2012. Retrieved 13 May 2012.
- Muslim rant sermon: Fury and hurt as First Minister Peter Robinson backs Islam row pastor McConnell Belfast Telegraph 29 May 2014
- Ulster and Islam: Minarets and steeples, The Economist.
- Belfast pastor James McConnell denounces Islam as the devil's doctrine at Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle church sermon Belfast Telegraph 21 May 2014
- Northern Ireland Muslim leaders accept Robinson apology Belfast Newsletter 30 May 2014
- Northern Ireland's Peter Robinson apologises for Muslim comments The Guardian. 3 June 2014
- "I'd love to be Gareth Bale says First Minister Peter Robinson" Belfast Telegraph 10 May 2012
- "Folks on the Hill". BBC News. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
- Belfast Telegraph[dead link]
- Democratic Unionist Party
- First Minister and deputy First Minister
- Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister
- Department of Finance and Personnel
- List of Northern Ireland members of the Privy Council
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|Member of Parliament for Belfast East
|Northern Ireland Assembly|
|Member of the Legislative Assembly for Belfast East
|Party political offices|
|General Secretary of the Democratic Unionist Party
|Deputy Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party
|Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party
|Minister for Regional Development
|Minister for Regional Development
|Minister of Finance and Personnel
|First Minister of Northern Ireland