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The Right Honourable
 Peter Robinson MP MLA

Peter Robinson, June 2008

Incumbent
Assumed office 
5 June 2008
Suspended active role 11 January 2010
Deputy Martin McGuinness
Preceded by Ian Paisley
Succeeded by Arlene Foster (acting)

Incumbent
Assumed office 
31 May 2008
Preceded by Ian Paisley

In office
8 May 2007 – 5 June 2008
Preceded by Sean Farren
Succeeded by Nigel Dodds

In office
29 November 1999 – 27 July 2000
Preceded by New position
Succeeded by Gregory Campbell

In office
24 October 2001 – 11 October 2002
Preceded by Gregory Campbell
Succeeded by Conor Murphy

Member of Parliament
for Belfast East
Incumbent
Assumed office 
3 May 1979
Preceded by William Craig
Majority 5877 (19%)

Incumbent
Assumed office 
25 June 1998
Preceded by New Creation

Born 29 December 1948 (1948-12-29) (age 61)
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Nationality British
Political party Democratic Unionist Party
Spouse(s) Iris Collins (1970-present)
Children 2 sons, 1 daughter
Residence Belfast, Northern Ireland
Alma mater Belfast Metropolitan College
Occupation Politician
Profession Estate agent
Religion Elim Pentecostal
Website www.peterrobinson.org

Peter David Robinson (born 29 December 1948) is a politician from Northern Ireland. He has been First Minister of Northern Ireland since 5 June 2008 and leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) since 31 May 2008. He was previously Minister of Finance and Personnel.[1]

Robinson has been involved in politics in Northern Ireland for much of his adult life. He was elected in 1979 as Member of Parliament (MP) for the Belfast constituency of Belfast East. Following the re-establishment of devolution in Northern Ireland, Robinson was elected in 1998 as Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) for the Belfast constituency of Belfast East.

He won the DUP leadership election unopposed on 17 April 2008.[2] Subsequently he became First Minister on 5 June 2008 following the resignation of First Minister Ian Paisley on 31 May 2008.[3]

In January 2010, following a scandal involving his wife Iris Robinson, he announced that he was stepping aside from the position of First Minister for a period of six weeks.[4] Under the terms of the Northern Ireland Act 2006,[5] he designated Arlene Foster to discharge the duties of First Minister until his return.

Contents

Background

Peter Robinson was born in Belfast, the son of David McCrea Robinson and his wife Sheila Robinson. He was educated at Annadale Grammar School (now Wellington College Belfast), a single-sex grammar school in Belfast. Robinson studied at Castlereagh College (now Castlereagh Campus of Belfast Metropolitan College), a further education college in Belfast. Between leaving college and beginning his political career he was an estate agent.

Political career

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Member of the DUP

Peter Robinson holding an AK-47 assault rifle. The photo was taken in Israel in 1986.[6]

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.[7]

Robinson was elected as a councillor for Castlereagh Borough Council for the Castlereagh C area in the local government elections on 18 May 1977.[8] He resigned from the council on 2 July 2007.[9]

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.[7] He won the seat with a 19.9%[7] swing to the DUP and a majority of 64[7], with Alliance Party leader Oliver Napier 928[7] votes behind, unseating the MP former Vanguard Progressive Unionist Party leader and UUP candidate William Craig on 3 May 1979 .

Member of Parliament and Executive Minister

Robinson does not sit on any committees in the United Kingdom Parliament, although served on the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee from 1997 to 13 July 2005[10]. Along with UUP and DUP MPs Robinson resigned his seat in protest at the Anglo Irish Agreement on 17 December 1985 and was re-elected in the subsequent by-election.

He was re-elected to the House of Commons in 1983, 1986, 1987, 1992, 1997, 2001 and 2005. In the general election on 7 June 2001, Robinson’s wife, Iris, joined him in Parliament as MP for Strangford. The Robinsons are the first husband and wife ever to represent Northern Ireland in Parliament.

Robinson is 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.[7]

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.[11] On 25 June 1998, he was elected MLA for Belfast East in the Northern Ireland Assembly election.[12] 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.

Robinson was Minister of Finance and Personnel from 8 May 2007 to June 2008.[1]

On 4 March 2008, Ian Paisley announced that he would step down as Leader of the DUP and First Minister in May 2008.[13] 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.[14][15] He formally became leader on 31 May 2008.

First Minister

Robinson meets with United States President Barack Obama.

As Leader of the DUP, Robinson was ratified by the Northern Ireland Assembly as First Minister with Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness as deputy First Minister (diarchy) on 5 June 2008.[3]

Iris Robinson scandal

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.[4] Mr Robinson is facing a claim that he knew his wife obtained £50,000 from two developers for her teenage lover but did not tell the proper authorities and the due to his wife currently receiving "acute psychiatric treatment" following a BBC Spotlight documentary. On 11 January 2010 Robinson confirmed that he had asked both the House of Commons and the Northern Ireland Assembly to carry out an inquiry into his conduct.

Policies and views

Voted as MP (examples)

According to TheyWorkForYou Robinson has voted on key issues since 2001 like this:

  • Has never voted on a transparent Parliament.
  • Voted moderately for introducing a smoking ban.
  • Voted moderately against introducing ID cards.
  • Voted strongly against introducing foundation hospitals.
  • Voted strongly against introducing student top-up fees.
  • Voted a mixture of for and against Labour's anti-terrorism laws.
  • Voted very strongly for the Iraq war.
  • Voted moderately for an investigation into the Iraq war.
  • Voted very strongly for replacing Trident.
  • Voted strongly against the hunting ban.
  • Voted moderately against equal LGBT rights.[16]

Political controversies

Invasion of Clontibret

On 7 August 1986, in protest at the Anglo-Irish Agreement, Robinson led a group of 500 loyalists into the town of Clontibret in County Monaghan in the Republic of Ireland. The loyalists entered the Garda station in the town and physically assaulted two Gardaí, before holding a quasi-military parade in the town square. Robinson was later arrested. He pleaded guilty to unlawful assembly and was fined IR£17500 in a Drogheda court to escape a prison sentence. As a result, Robinson briefly resigned from the DUP deputy leadership.[17] 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.[18] At his trial the judge described him as "a senior extremist politician".[19][20]

Ulster Resistance

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.[20][21] 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'.[22]

Personal controversies

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 endorsed the controversial view, also shared by his wife Iris Robinson, that homosexuality was against Christian theology.

Robinson said: “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.” [23]

The comments angered LGBT Christian groups throughout the UK.

The Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister is tasked with promoting "better community relations" and "a culture of equality and rights" in Northern Ireland, including for Christians and gay people.[24]

Planning application

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[25] in Belfast.[26]

BBC Spotlight investigation

On 8 January 2010 the BBC Northern Ireland programme Spotlight[27] reported on how his wife, Iris, had obtained £50,000 for Kirk McCambley, 19 at the time, while she was sexually involved with him.[28] 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.[29] However, the programme showed that when Robinson found out about the financial aspects of his wife's relationship he insisted that the money she had lobbied for and subsequently lent and gifted from two property developers to her lover be returned in full. However, 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 has at all times acted properly and fulfilled all requirements, and would robustly challenge any allegation to the contrary.[30]

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 has been nominated as his replacement.[4]

Personal life

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 is also member of Castlereagh Borough Council. They were the first husband and wife ever to represent Northern Ireland constituencies in Parliament.

Satire

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.[31] However it does not appear that he will escape a shared nickname as "Brothers Grimm" is catching on.[32]

See also

External links

Offices held

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
William Craig
Member of Parliament for Belfast East
1979–present
Incumbent
Northern Ireland Assembly
Preceded by
Newly created position
MLA for Belfast East
1998–present
Incumbent
Party political offices
Preceded by
?
Party Secretary of the Democratic Unionist Party
1975–1979
Succeeded by
William Beattie
Preceded by
William Beattie
Deputy Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party
1980–2008
Succeeded by
Nigel Dodds
Preceded by
Ian Paisley
Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party
2008–present
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
Newly created office
Minister for Regional Development
1999–2000
Succeeded by
Gregory Campbell
Preceded by
Gregory Campbell
Minister for Regional Development
2001–2002
Succeeded by
Office Suspended 2002–07
(Conor Murphy, 2007–present)
Preceded by
Office suspended
Minister of Finance and Personnel
2007–2008
Succeeded by
Nigel Dodds
Preceded by
Ian Paisley
First Minister of Northern Ireland
2008–present [33]
Succeeded by
Incumbent

References and notes


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