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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Conservative evangelical politicians are the same everywhere

Northern Ireland is no exception. Only, as Americablog notes, they have the sense to be named Mrs. Robinson.

Still more from the Guardian:
The drama, which began with an affair between Mrs Robinson, then 59, and 19-year-old Kirk McCambley, threatens to destabilise the entire power-sharing project that has helped to end four decades of sectarian violence and which holds up the province as a model for peace-making around the world.

When the story began to leak out about the affair, his wife's attempted suicide and the £50,000 she had given to McCambley to open the inn, Peter Robinson adopted a strategy of damage limitation and summoned a party of hand-picked journalists to his home in east Belfast. Looking gaunt and with tears welling in his eyes, the east Belfast man poured his heart out in front of the camera as he laid out painful details of his wife's affair. It was an astonishing transformation in Robinson's hard-man, technocratic, cold-blooded public image – from a man in total control to one who appeared battered and broken and eliciting public sympathy.

Twenty-four hours later and the picture had altered radically. Judging by the radio talk-shows' phone-ins and local newspaper opinion polls, public anger was directed at both Robinsons. The family's personal and financial affairs have already been under some scrutiny after it emerged last year that between them the couple earned £571,939.41 in salaries and expenses from both the Stormont and Westminster parliaments. Their luxury cars, property portfolio in Northern Ireland and their holiday home in Florida earned them the nickname the "Swish Family Robinson". Fresh allegations over the £50,000 borrowed by Iris Robinson, and what her husband did or did not say about the money, compounded anger against Northern Ireland's "first family". Iris Robinson has not been seen in public since the scandal broke.

Of course, like our very own Republican Party, the DUP has a long history of scandal. Mrs. Robinson's is distinguished from the GOP's not by her age but her heterosexuality.

Iris Robinson's career is over, but she is certainly not the first DUP politician from the party's evangelical Christian wing whose career has been abruptly ended over charges of hypocrisy and double-dealing. Just a two-minute stroll from the Lock Keepers' Inn is the five-star Ramada hotel, the location for the DUP's last sex scandal back in 2005.

Paul Berry at 22 was the youngest-ever member elected to the Northern Ireland assembly. A gospel singer as well as DUP activist from the age of 16, Berry went just days before the 2005 election to the Ramada hotel under a false name and booked into a bedroom. There he met a man he had contacted on an online gay chat-room, and according to the latter they had sex, a claim denied by Berry, who said he went there for a "sports massage".

Among those in the DUP high command who insisted that Berry be kicked out of the party, given its traditional policies of homespun family values and born-again Christianity, was Peter Robinson. Among those who wanted to give the young Co Armagh man a fair hearing was Dr Ian Paisley, the founder of both the party and the Free Presbyterian Church. As a result, Paisley was forced to listen to a secret recording the gay masseur had made of his encounter on a mobile phone with Berry. Berry was subsequently expelled from the party over the incident.

Because we always aim to please our readers, here are some pictures of Mrs. Robinson and young Kirk McCambley.

UPDATE: The Daily Mail has entered the fray, reporting another typical conservative tactic: not coming through with promises made to churches. Just as the Bush Administration never came through on abortion or a constitutional amendment against gay marriage, the Robinsons didn't come through on hush money.
The sister of her husband Peter insisted that her church had never received a penny of the money Iris Robinson had claimed would be sent to it as a donation.

The Rev. Pat Herron, pastor of the Light 'n' Life Tabernacle in Dundonald, said her chapel had never benefited from any of the £50,000 secured by Mrs Robinson from two property speculators for her teenage lover's café business.

Developer Fred Fraser, who is now deceased, and Co. Down builder Ken Campbell each provided £25,000 for Kirk McCambley, then aged 19, to start up the Lock Keeper's Inn café in south Belfast while he was having a passionate affair with the then 59-year-old Mrs Robinson.
In a BBC documentary last week, Mr McCambley, now 21, claimed that Mrs Robinson had then asked him to give £5,000 of the cash back to her, which he did.

When his affair with Mrs Robinson started to break down, she then demanded that he return the outstanding £45,000. Of this, £20,000 was to go to Mrs Robinson and the remaining £25,000 to the church.

When Methodist pastor Mrs Herron was asked about a donation, she replied: 'The money didn't go to the church. We didn't get any.'
The bluest states in America are lowest in teen pregnancy, divorce, and a host of social ills. Conservatives are so hellbent on sinning that they want the government to force everyone to stop. But as we see over and over, it's a pretty futile attempt at self-help.

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