Iris Robinson


Iris Robinson

Infobox MP
honorific-prefix =
name = Iris Robinson
honorific-suffix = MLA, MP


imagesize = 160px
caption =
office= Spokesman for Health, Youth and Women
term_start = 2001
term_end =
leader = Peter Robinson
predecessor =
successor =
constituency_AM3 = Strangford
assembly3 = Northern Ireland
term_start3 = 25 June 1998
term_end3 =
majority3 =
predecessor3 = "new assembly"
successor3 =
constituency_MP2 = Strangford
parliament2 =
term_start2 = 7 June 2001
term_end2 =
majority2 = 13,049 (35.2%)
predecessor2 = John Taylor
successor2 =
birth_date = Birth date and age|1949|9|6|df=yes
birth_place = Belfast, Northern Ireland
death_date =
death_place =
nationality = British
spouse = Peter Robinson
party = Democratic Unionist Party
relations =
children =
residence =
alma_mater =
occupation =
profession =
religion =


website = [http://www.dup.org.uk/IrisRobinson.asp official website]
footnotes =

Iris Robinson (born 6 September 1949 in Belfast as Iris Collins) is a Northern Ireland Unionist politician.

She is the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) Member of the Parliament of the United Kingdom (MP) for Strangford, and was first elected in the 2001 general election, replacing Ulster Unionist Party MP, John Taylor. She was re-elected in the 2005 General Election.

She was first elected councillor for Castlereagh Borough Council in 1989, and served 3 times as Mayor. Elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly she has served as member for Strangford since 1998; acting as Deputy Whip for the DUP party and health spokesman. She was a member of the Northern Ireland Forum for Political Dialogue from 1995 to 1997

She is married to Peter Robinson, who is currently First Minister and the DUP leader, MP for Belfast East, Assembly member and a former Castlereagh councillor.

Robinson describes herself as a Born again Christian, [cite web |url=http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debate/?id=2008-05-12b.1124.0 |title=Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, House of Commons |publisher=TheyWorkForYou |date=12 May 2008 |accessdate=2008-06-16 ] and has publicly stated that it is "the duty of Government to uphold God's law". [The Stephen Nolan Show, BBC Radio Ulster, 17 July 2008 [http://www.bbc.co.uk/northernireland/nolan/phonecallarchive/ BBC archive] ] Her expressed views on homosexuality caused some controversy in 2008. [http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/iris-gays-more-vile-than-child-abusers-13913517.html Belfast Telegraph - "Iris: gays more vile than child abusers"] ]

Parliamentary record

Since taking up her seat in the House of Commons, Robinson has voted in 32.9% of votes in parliament — below the average amongst MPs.http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/iris_robinson/strangford] In her maiden speech she spoke about the 'betrayal' felt by the Royal Ulster Constabulary, criticising the Government's policy on policing. [http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200102/cmhansrd/vo010625/debtext/10625-26.htm]

Robinson's voting record shows that she voted strongly against introducing foundation hospitals, very strongly for the Iraq war, moderately for an investigation into the Iraq war, voted moderately against equal gay rights, and never voted on transparent Parliament or on replacing Trident.

Iris Robinson was also one of Gordon Brown's so called 'Dirty dozen' [http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/twelve-good-folk-and-true-or-browns-dirty-dozen-847334.html] , after she and her fellow DUP members swung the vote on Labours 42-day terror detention, part of the Counter-Terrorism Bill. [http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/mp.php?id=uk.org.publicwhip/member/1846&showall=yes#divisions]

Personal life

Robinson married Peter Robinson on 26 July 1970 and they have three children, Jonathan, Gareth and Rebekah. They are the first husband and wife ever to represent Northern Ireland constituencies in Parliament.

Robinson is a Pentecostal Christian and is a member of the Metropolitan Tabernacle Belfast, an Elim Pentecostal Church in Belfast.

Outside politics she lists her interests as: "Fundraising for M.S.and a keen interest and a flair for Interior Design". [http://www.dup.org.uk/IrisRobinson.asp]

Controversy

Robinson was suspended from Stormont for a day on Monday 19 November 2007 after refusing to withdraw 'unparliamentary' comments she had made about the health minister, Michael McGimpsey. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/7101855.stm Robinson ordered out of Stormont] , BBC News, November 19 2007, accessed June 07, 2008]

In June 2008, shortly after a homophobic attack on a gay man in the province, she made comments on the BBC Radio Ulster's "Stephen Nolan Show" offering to recommend homosexuals to psychiatric counselling. [ [http://www.bbc.co.uk/northernireland/nolan/listenagain/ Listen to broadcast from show archives] , accessed 06 June 2008] While condemning the attack, [Tony Grew [http://www.pinknews.co.uk/news/articles/2005-7858.html "MP reacts to homophobic assault by suggesting "ex-gay" therapy for victim",] "Pink News", 6 June 2008. Retrieved on 8 June 2008.] she said during the broadcast:

She went on to say "I'm happy to put any homosexual in touch with this gentleman and I have met people who have turned around and become heterosexuals." Mrs Robinson claimed that homosexuality was an "abomination" and it made her feel "sick" and "nauseous". In a subsequent interview following criticism of her comments, Mrs Robinson defended her views and denied prejudice against homosexuals, saying that "just as a murderer can be redeemed by the blood of Christ, so can a homosexual.... If anyone takes issue, they're taking issue with the word of God." [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/7447850.stm "Attack victim lambasts Robinson"] ]

Her claims were rebuffed by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, David McCartney from the Rainbow Project, Sinn Féin's Education Minister, Caitríona Ruane [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/7439661.stm " 'Gay counselling' call rejected"] , BBC News, June 06, 2008, accessed June 07, 2008] and Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) representatives including Equality Spokesperson, Dolores Kelly. [ [http://www.sdlp.ie/news_item.php?id=7232 "Kelly Condemns Homophobic Robinson"] , SDLP] [ [http://www.sdlp.ie/news_item.php?id=7264 "McDermott Slams Robinsons Homophobic Remarks"] , SDLP] The psychiatrist in question, Dr Paul Miller, later resigned from his post of 'adviser' to Mrs Robinson, and temporarily stood down from his post of Consultant pyschiatrist at Belfast's Mater hospital. [http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/breaking-news/ireland/psychiatrist-in-gay-storm-steps-down-from-belfast-hospital-13938019.html]

She is now also under a police hate crime investigation for those comments as over one hundred [http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/ni/ethics/ BBC Will and Testament | William Crawley's broadcasting diary | Ethics ] ] separate complaints have been made against her, including those by Andrew Muir, the vice chair of Gay and Lesbian across Down, [http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/article3782984.ece Belfast Telegraph - Police probe Iris Robinson’s ‘gay’ remarks] ] who is a member of the South Belfast District Policing Partnership, [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/northern_ireland/7443323.stm BBC News - New criticism over MP's gay views] ] and by gay rights activist Robert Toner who believes his human rights were violated and complained to the Equality Commission. According to the Coalition on Sexual Orientation (CoSo), a gay advocacy group in Northern Ireland, the figure of over one hundred complaints was provided to them by the police. Some of the complaints were made in person by members of the public visiting a local police station, and some were made via the PSNI website. [ [http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/article3795393.ece Belfast Telegraph - Man suing Iris Robinson over her comments on gays] ] Mrs Robinson again repeated her viewpoint in the Northern Ireland Assembly on 30 June 2008 when questioned by Health Minister Michael McGimpsey [ [http://www.niassembly.gov.uk/record/reports2007/080630.htm The Assembly - Official Report Monday 30 June 2008 ] ] [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/7482263.stm BBC NEWS | Northern Ireland | Gay comments twisted - Robinson ] ] in a discussion about "LGBT Groups: Mental-Health Needs".

On 17 June 2008, speaking in a Northern Ireland Grand Committee session on "Risk Assessment and Management of Sex Offenders", Iris Robinson asserted:

She reiterated her statement to the Belfast Telegraph on 21st June 2008, but later claimed that she had been "misrepresented" on Hansard. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/7517500.stm BBC NEWS | Northern Ireland | Gay comment inaccurate - Robinson ] ] However her claims of misrepresentation were challenged when Alliance Party Executive Director Gerry Lynch confirmed with staff in Hansard that Robinson's comments were in fact correctly quoted. Gerry Lynch said: "We have checked this matter with Hansard. The Hansard staff, having reviewed the recordings of the 17th June Grand Committee meeting, are satisfied that they quoted Mrs. Robinson accurately. Her statement claiming that she may have been misquoted, issued earlier today, has now been shown up as speculative and incorrect." [http://www.allianceparty.org/news/003889/hansard_confirms_robinson_correctly_quoted_on_homosexuality_and_paedophilia.html]

Further controversy was caused on 17 July 2008 when Robinson phoned in to the Stephen Nolan Show [ [http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markdevenport/ BBC NEWS | The Reporters | Mark Devenport ] ] debating the issue of abortion ever becoming legal in Northern Ireland and asserted that "It is the government's responsibility to uphold God's law". She also accused Stephen Nolan on air of "peddling lies" and "misrepresenting her comments" on previous editions of the show regarding homosexuality and of making sure that various newspapers misrepresented her views.

On July 23 2008, the Belfast Telegraph reported that "Almost 11,000 people have signed a petition calling on Gordon Brown to reprimand DUP MP Iris Robinson over her controversial remarks about homosexuality" and "Less than 30 people have signed an opposing petition calling on the Prime Minister to allow the comments to go unreprimanded as a matter of personal opinion and religion". [http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/11000-demand-pm-reprimands-iris-for-her-outburst-about-gays-13918742.html] Links to petition were featured on a Labour Party website. [http://www.labourhome.org/story/2008/7/22/174232/415] The Liberal Democrats and Amnesty International also also featured a similar link on their site.

The incident was followed up with a further ministerial gauff, on 31 July when the Pink News reported, on an interview given to the Belfast Telegraph , that Iris Robinson said "I cannot think of anything more sickening than a child being abused. It is comparable to the act of homosexuality. I think they are all comparable. I feel totally repulsed by both." [http://www.pinknews.co.uk/news/articles/2005-8562.html]

Northern Irish Hollyoaks actor Gerard McCarthy called for her resignation of Robinson accusing her of "ruining the lives of young people who were struggling with their sexuality". He went on to say that "there was no place for hateful and extremist opinions in a modern democracy" and accused Robinson of violating the MPs' Paliamentary code of conduct.

Mrs Robinson has since earned herself the moniker,‘Iris, Wicked Witch Of The North.’ [http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/belfast-pride-hits-back-at-iris-robinson-13927372.html?startindex=20]

References

External links

* [http://politics.guardian.co.uk/person/0,9290,-9626,00.html Guardian Unlimited Politics - Ask Aristotle: Iris Robinson MP]
* [http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/iris_robinson/strangford TheyWorkForYou.com - Iris Robinson MP]
* [http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200102/cmhansrd/vo010625/debtext/10625-26.htm Maiden Speech : House of Commons - 25 June 2001]


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