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Heaven Holds a Place For Those Who Pray
January 22, 2010 4:56 AM   Subscribe

Iris Robinson [wiki] is, at the time of writing, under acute psychiatric care in a Belfast hospital, after a BBC Northern Ireland documentary revealed that she had, at the age of 59, solicited £50,000 from two property developers to help fund a business run by her 19-year-old lover, Kirk McCambley.
posted by billysumday (55 comments total)

 
For a moment there I read the lover's name was Kirk Cameron.
posted by orange swan at 5:03 AM on January 22, 2010


This story is worth it just for the use of the nickname "Celtic Cougar".
posted by PenDevil at 5:05 AM on January 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Flagged as having more commas than context.
posted by DU at 5:05 AM on January 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


That was...interesting. Thanks for sharing that. I hope she gets better.
posted by RussHy at 5:13 AM on January 22, 2010


In a subsequent interview, Robinson defended her views and denied prejudice against LGBT people, saying that "just as a murderer can be redeemed by the blood of Christ, so can a homosexual".

She is very mentally ill. I hope she gets the help she needs.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:14 AM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


crazy lady is crazy
posted by unSane at 5:18 AM on January 22, 2010


Bit all over the shop, the LRB article.
The sexual improprieties wouldn't have done for her, as the particular religious communities that make up the bedrock of DUP cadre are all about forgiveness for the repentant sinner and of course the bigotry is par for the course, but the money issues are fatal and it seems at long last plod are taking an interest. Hear tell the Robinsons run Castlereagh somewhat in the manner of a personal fief.
posted by Abiezer at 5:23 AM on January 22, 2010


I think you could have made this post much sexier and linkbaity, how about

Rightwing Northern Irish Christian fundamentalist politician Iris Robinson, 59, who caused outrage last year after labelling homosexuality an "abomination" on par with paedophilia and something which could be "cured" with appropriate treatment, has nearly caused the downfall of the Northern Irish government.
Robinson began a sexual relationship with Kirk McCambley, 19, after the death of his father. She solicited £50,000 in donations from 2 property developers to help Kirk open a cafe along with a £5k commission for herself.
She arranged for the local government to build the cafe for Kirk and award him the contract to run it despite him having no prior business experience. Kirk then faked testicular cancer to get out of the weird relationship. Iris found out and got angry and asked for the £50,000 back even though the property developers gave them directly to Kirk. One of the property developers died but Iris then insisted his £25k should then go to her. Her husband, the First Minister, found out about it all and hit the roof. Iris then tried to commit suicide. Strangely, just hours later her husband was at the dispatch box. Strangely, no hospital has any record of her suicide attempt.
This all came to light 9 months later when one of her former aides spilled the beans.
Since then the First Minister has taken a leave of absence while an investigation continues into why he didn't report her to the police or parliamentary authorities.
Many jokes about The Graduate soundtrack were told.
posted by Damienmce at 5:28 AM on January 22, 2010 [52 favorites]


I've been following this with a bit of delight and hoping someone would post it to MeFi. She's like the female Ted Haggard.

LOL Unionists.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:30 AM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Just cut links with Kirk,’ she texted in the autumn of 2008. ‘God’s word was very clear on it. He was reasonably OK. I am not.’ "

Good to know God was OK.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:32 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Whether her seduction of this bereaved young man was lyrical or cynical, we can assume, along with those who watched the BBC documentary – watched while texting, emailing; with their mother on the landline, and their mouths wide open – that there was, before that initial adulterous touch, an amount of trembling involved.

And then she gave him money.


Ms. Enright can write.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:37 AM on January 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Ms. Enright can write.
It's a slow, meticulous and beautiful evisceration of a repugnant bigot.
posted by vivelame at 5:42 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


One of the mods should replace the original post with Damienmce's version.

(I know, I know, but really).
posted by unSane at 5:50 AM on January 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


If the mods would like to change the post to something more akin to Damienmce's comment, that would be fine by me. But just to clarify, if I may: the point of this post wasn't necessarily the story of Iris Robinson and the downfall of her party but rather a link to what I thought was the best of piece of writing about the story of Iris Robinson and the downfall of her party. If there's some way to fold Damienmice's comment into my post while keeping the LRB link featured, then it'd be best of both worlds, IMHO.
posted by billysumday at 5:59 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


The post is fine as is. So is Damienmice's comment.

I hope Mrs. Robinson is getting real psychiatric help and not more fundamentalist brainwashing. I think that type of fundie Christianity is really mental illness that needs treatment.
posted by RussHy at 6:07 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


psychiatric help?

Since when does having an affair and engaging in shady business dealings make you insane?
posted by delmoi at 6:10 AM on January 22, 2010


She also tried to commit suicide.
posted by Elmore at 6:13 AM on January 22, 2010


Since when does having an affair and engaging in shady business dealings make you insane?

It doesn't, and I'm not sure who's arguing that. The linked article describes Robinson's history of mental illness.
posted by billysumday at 6:14 AM on January 22, 2010


Truly she is an unpleasant human being. That said, I hope that she recovers. And if she does, I hope that she faces prosecution for corruption in public office. This is a real opportunity for the Police Service of Northern Ireland to demonstrate its independence and impartiality.
posted by dmt at 6:16 AM on January 22, 2010


"just as a murderer can be redeemed by the blood of Christ, so can a homosexual"

Actually, I like this much better than those Christians who readily forgive any sinners except homosexuals.

Getting Christians to really believe, as they profess, that we are all sinners and all require God's grace is a win, compared to the idea that homosexuality is some sort of unredeemable "super sin" that requires hates and ostracization.

In heavily RC Ireland, where until recently sectarian murders touched everyone across the border, equating murderers and homosexuals might have been a way to humanize gays.
posted by orthogonality at 6:18 AM on January 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


Since when does having an affair and engaging in shady business dealings make you insane?

Didn't you read the article? She's currently unavailable to her lawyers because she's under psychiatric care.
posted by RussHy at 6:21 AM on January 22, 2010


Keith Law's done the best of the many Graduate song parodies.
posted by Abiezer at 6:30 AM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


has nearly caused the downfall of the Northern Irish government

The fuck?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:50 AM on January 22, 2010


The fuck?
Her husband's the First Minister and possibly implicated in the financial shenanigans or at least failed to inform the proper authorities when he became aware of them.
posted by Abiezer at 6:54 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I already knew about the story: although I remembered only the First Minister's name, so "Iris Robinson" didn't ring a bell for me. So I was completely thrown as to what the hell this post was about.

Great page title though.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:07 AM on January 22, 2010


has nearly caused the downfall of the Northern Irish government

The fuck?


In parliamentary countries, "the government" can refer to "the party or coalition of parties in power" not just the actual mechanisms of law and procedure that define how that works. We aren't talking "breakup of the USSR" but more like "Republicans lose Congress".
posted by DU at 7:09 AM on January 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


I can't really take schadenfreude at someone who is this badly messed up, even though she's a corrupt homophobe (the corruption seems to have been pretty penny-ante, anyway), but if it hurts Ian Paisley, well, there's your silver lining right there.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:17 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


LOL Unionists.

.....What's this mean?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:21 AM on January 22, 2010


Ms Robinson and her husband are prominent figures in the Democratic Unionist Party, on the more militant (and evangelical Protestant) wing of Ulster Unionism. Peter Robinson has links with paramilitaries and as mentioned in the linked article led an 'invasion' of the Republic in 1986. He shares his wife's views on homosexuality, as do I imagine the majority of their political base, so while the schadenfreude of an odious moralist being hoisted on her own petard is obvious, it's actually one of the least significant parts of the scandal.
posted by Abiezer at 7:39 AM on January 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


Okay, I'll confess that my wide-eyed "what does 'Unionists' mean" was more a comment on conflating the actions of this one individual onto all Unionists wasn't quite fair.

But I'll admit that I'm sincerely surprised, Abiezer, as I'd always heard that those who wanted Ulster to remain part of the UK were called "Loyalists", and that "Unionists" were those who were hoping for "union" with the Republic. Were the two sides ever called that, or was I operating on completely wackjob information?

Heh. I love it when I learn something unexpectedly.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:48 AM on January 22, 2010


Ah, right - I thought you might have taken it as a reference to trade unionism or something hence the confusion. Sorry for the un-asked for cod lecture! Were you maybe thinking of the United Irishmen from way back when (many of the prominent figures in that were Protestants)?
posted by Abiezer at 7:52 AM on January 22, 2010


....No, I don't think so...my "education" consists of reading one or two books during the 1980's and a couple conversations with my friend in Cork whose uncle was in a special unit of the Irish national Gardai. (....I fear I'm butchering that spelling.)

Then again, that still put me yards ahead of most people I knew (I remember a conversation with my parents in the early 90's wherein my father was genuinely surprised to hear that Northern Ireland was part of the United Kingdom in the first place).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:57 AM on January 22, 2010


EmpressCallipygos: in the context of Ulster, unionists have always been "loyalists". I don't think the term loyalist is used all that much, especially on the English side of the fence, since it's not 100% obvious to whom they are loyal.
posted by pascal at 8:06 AM on January 22, 2010


I'll chalk it up to a semantic difference compounded by my trying to research this while living in a remote part of Eastern Connecticut. Thanks!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:10 AM on January 22, 2010


Unionists are funny when they aren't killing people or denouncing them as satanic.

Or worshipping that queen person.
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:11 AM on January 22, 2010


Speaking from an English perspective, I find NI politics very alien and disconnected to UK politics in general. That we tend to hear about it when a) stupid shit like this happens, or b) people get killed, only serves to alienate it more. I don't think many people would care, anymore than "haha, crazy homosexual hater is corrupt and immoral", and that's telling. When the Troubles/war of independence was still ongoing, NI politics seemed so difficult and necessary, but now?
posted by Sova at 8:48 AM on January 22, 2010


Quick primer on NI politics.

Unionists want to stay in the UK i.e maintain the union Loyalists are the lunatic fringe of unionism. Two main parties are UUP and DUP. UUP being a little more centrist and similiar to the old school Tory party in outlook. DUP are your much more rightwing crazies.

Nationalists want to join with the Republic of Ireland. SDLP are moderates closer to Labour UK in terms out outlook. Sinn Fein are more the more militant IRA related party with much harder socialist stance.

Somewhat embarrassingly for Sinn Fein there's remarkably little enthusiasm for unification in the south of Ireland. They look north and think 'that's going to cost me money'. NI is nearly 70% public sector jobs.

The somewhat odd structure of NI forces the parties to work together. No party has a majority and can't force through legislation the other wants. So they just endlessly argue. No one really cares as long as stuff isn't blowing up.

For the very interested: Slugger O Toole
posted by Damienmce at 9:19 AM on January 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


It's good to know that we're not the only ones with nutjobs running amok in our government. Thanks Ireland!
posted by Big_B at 9:26 AM on January 22, 2010


The other big political story at the minute is Gerry Adams family troubles; one the one hand very different situations, on the other the political fall-out may well depend on how much was known when and whether there have been cover-ups.
posted by Abiezer at 9:28 AM on January 22, 2010


But I'll admit that I'm sincerely surprised, Abiezer, as I'd always heard that those who wanted Ulster to remain part of the UK were called "Loyalists", and that "Unionists" were those who were hoping for "union" with the Republic. Were the two sides ever called that, or was I operating on completely wackjob information?

Heh. I love it when I learn something unexpectedly.


Note that the "Union" spoken about is the Act of Union that created the "United Kingdom." Hence the name "Unionist." The IRA are the "Republicans."
posted by Ironmouth at 9:32 AM on January 22, 2010


That conflict has made all parties insane.
posted by fourcheesemac at 9:41 AM on January 22, 2010


Also bear in mind the population of Northern Ireland is 1.5 million or 3% of the UK in total, people forget what a stormy little teacup it is.
posted by Damienmce at 9:59 AM on January 22, 2010


The other big political story at the minute is Gerry Adams family troubles

LOL Republicans
posted by the cuban at 10:05 AM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I live in East Belfast, and it's hard to overstate the amount of interest this affair is receiving here - there's been intense news coverage of the whole affair and it is definitely the topic of the moment. And the jokes are many and cruel: "Ulster says Ho!" is an example. And I won't go into the popularity of the Tarte à l'Orange at the Lock Keeper's Cafe.

Iris Robinson hasn't been seen in public since the story broke, and initially there was a rumour that she was skiing in Chamonix. Not surprisingly, this garnered little sympathy from the public. This has since been strongly denied, and hearing that she's in psychiatric care has dampened down the flames a bit. People seem to feel more sorry for her, but there's still some who maintain that her illness is a bid for damage limitation. An attempt to blame everything on poor deranged Iris, while her husband gets to wash his hands of the affair and stay in power.

I'm torn. I find her views on homosexuality abhorrent and have little in common with her political views, but gosh she's going to find it difficult to resume a normal life. She's been pushed out of her party, and forced to resign as MP and MLA. The DUP is not kind to those members who violate their morality code. I've started to feel a bit sorry for her. Northern Ireland is an insular and gossipy wee province.

Playgirl have offered Kirk McCambley a chance to pose for them. Ulster's Levi Johnston?
posted by Tapioca at 10:17 AM on January 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


hmpf...sounds like my life...hot young boyfriend, gobs of money and power, big 'ol fireplace...
oh wait, no it doesn't.
:(
posted by sexyrobot at 11:11 AM on January 22, 2010


Some coverage from the Irish press:

Jim Cusack in the Irish Independent, a good overview of the whole story.

Suzanne Breen in the Sunday Tribune, an enjoyably gossipy article with lots of details about Iris Robinson at home (including the famous bra collection). 'The Robinsons' home -- a huge white villa in east Belfast -- is Iris's pride and joy. The opulence is overpowering: curtains of wine and gold silk rising into a central coronet, towering Chinese vases, hundreds of priceless antiques, and chandeliers in every room .. The dining room is oriental, the sitting room Old English, the bathroom Italian, and one bedroom was French. Iris designed them all herself.'

Steven King in the Sunday Post, with a discussion of the political implications.

Whatever her psychiatric problems, I'm finding it difficult to work up any sympathy for Iris Robinson, given that this is the woman who described homosexuals as worse than paedophiles: 'There can be no viler act, apart from homosexuality and sodomy, than sexually abusing children.'
posted by verstegan at 11:37 AM on January 22, 2010


And the jokes are many and cruel

And so they should be... you reap what you sow and all that. God forgave her so what should she care. FFS, our environment minister was Sammy Fucking Wilson - Climate change denying twat. He's now our finance minister with the biggest cuts in the budget going to arts and culture (25%). Promotion of the arts and diversity is something we sorely need. Time the assembly was dismantled and we try again. Not that I'm too hopeful, what with two thirds of the population voting for an agreement that was never fulfilled.
posted by twistedonion at 11:38 AM on January 22, 2010


My favourite detail of the whole story is that Ian Paisley is reported to be 'beyond fury'. Most people seem to have taken this to mean that this time the Big Man isn't just furious, he's really, really, really furious. However, I prefer to imagine that Paisley has moved beyond fury into a Zen-like state of inner peace and contemplation.
posted by verstegan at 1:33 PM on January 22, 2010 [12 favorites]


Did the mental health issues cause the bigotry and hypocrisy, or did the bigotry and hypocrisy cause the mental health problems? Whatever the answer, I concur that I think her political career is over for good, though it is unclear whether her husband can ever bounce back.
posted by bearwife at 1:55 PM on January 22, 2010


My favourite detail of the whole story is that Ian Paisley is reported to be 'beyond fury'. Most people seem to have taken this to mean that this time the Big Man isn't just furious, he's really, really, really furious.

Given his normal speaking voice, I.P. beyond fury must be capable of being heard only by dogs or elephants, not sure which.
posted by Diablevert at 6:34 PM on January 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Is it just me or is anyone else fed up with the style of The London Review of Books? Their articles just jump all over the place, from attempts at formal objectivity to colloquial opinionating, from passive voice to active, from past to present, put in all kinds of unnecessary details without proper context in an almost random manner, change in tone from psuedo highbrow to slang, all with an insufferable air of knowingness. It seems they believe making things appear more difficult and mysterious than they really are makes them more profound and the writer more intelligent. I know a certain familiarity is assumed but this is just ADD-inducingly bad writing. I love the British and, all but this is either condescending puke or hack wankery or both.
posted by blue shadows at 8:58 PM on January 22, 2010


and all,
posted by blue shadows at 9:02 PM on January 22, 2010


this is either condescending puke or hack wankery or both.

It's both. 'Twas ever thus. I speak as a former subscriber.
posted by unSane at 9:03 PM on January 22, 2010


Their articles just jump all over the place...
I do agree (it was the opening remark in my first comment above) but I think it's a particular problem with this author and her tendency to cod psychoanalysis (she had an earlier article on the McCanns, the couple whose daughter disappeared in Portugal that was very much in the same vein) - reading the articles from the Belfast Telegraph verstegan linked you realise she's cribbed her evidence from secondary sources such as that which makes the whole exercise more rhetorical than anything, and as I was hinting above misses the some of the actual political points about the scandal. In fairness that might have been deliberate, but either way makes the treatment less interesting.
Still do get the odd good thing in the LRB; it's usually oone of my first purchases from the newsagents whenever I get home to the UK and there's writers I look out for but you're also right about the tendencies of the house style.
posted by Abiezer at 10:37 PM on January 22, 2010


I'm not familiar with the individual writers but I noticed this same maddening mock-elliptical style in yesterday's FPP about the 1910 Paris Flood.
posted by blue shadows at 11:12 PM on January 22, 2010


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