Not much has been said in the Northern Ireland blogasphere recently about Iris Robinson. Perhaps that is because many regarded the General Election as the drawing of a line under the scandal back in January.
Two weeks ago, it was reported that she was questioned by police in London over her financial dealings with her lover.
Yesterday, a front page story appeared in the Irish News in relation to her pension from Westminster. Now bear in mind that this relates to her position as an MP. Notwithstanding that she was expelled from the DUP, it was accepted by officials at Westminster that the reason for her quitting as an MP was her illness.
I have no idea whether she was ill or not. What is absolutely clear to me is that this politician built up her reputation as a bastion of Christian moral values. If she had not been ill, her position was so untenable that she could not possibly have represented her constituency. If one was really cynical one might say that being admitted into a psychiatric clinic, just before the scandal broke, was a very smart move on her part.
The other questionable part of this story is the size of the pension pot. £840,000 does not look to me like compensation for loss of earnings. With an General Election occurring only 7 months or so after her illness, it looks like a windfall. Does her pension assume that she would have been re-elected?
Since the Irish News is not available online without subscription, I have quoted the full text of the front page report here.
“Former MP Iris Robinson will receive a massive taxpayer-funded pension because Westminster officials have accepted that she quit politics due to ill health.
The Wife of First Minister Peter Robinson was forced to resign her seats in the House of Commons and the Assembly after it was revealed that she had an affair with a teenager and accepted £50,000 from property developers for the young man’s fledgling business.
Mrs. Robinson will receive the payout despite being the subject of a PSNI fraud investigation.
An expert has estimated that the total pension pot required to make payments for life amounts to £840,000.
Under normal parliamentary rules Mrs. Robinson would have had to wait until the age of 65 before she was entitled to receive her money.
However, because ill health has been accepted as the reason for her resignation she will be entitled to immediate payment.
The money includes a combined lump sum from Westminster and the assembly of £58,000 and annual payments of around £42,000 for life.
Following the acceptance of illness as grounds for her resignation from the Commons, Mrs. Robinson’s assembly pension will automatically be granted on the same grounds.
However, the former Strangford MP and MLA will have to wait until September when the assembly pension trustees meet again to sign off on her Stormont pension.
Mrs. Robinson has spent most of this year in a private London clinic receiving psychiatric treatment.
Detectives from the PSNI organised crime branch travelled to London last month to question her over her alleged financial wrongdoings.”
A further report appeared in the Irish News today entitled “No Comment from the DUP on Iris’s Pension.” Well, why would they comment?