Page last updated at 00:50 GMT, Friday, 8 January 2010

Who is Iris Robinson?

Iris and Peter Robinson
Peter and Iris Robinson were married in 1970

A BBC investigation has revealed that Iris Robinson, an MP and the wife of Northern Ireland's first minister broke the law by not declaring her financial interest in a business deal. Who is this controversial politician?

Iris Robinson, nee Collins, was born in Belfast in 1949.

She attended Cregagh Primary School, Knockbreda Intermediate School and Cregagh Technical College before becoming a private secretary.

She married Peter Robinson in 1970 and the couple have three children, two boys and one girl.

Mrs Robinson was first elected as a DUP councillor in Castlereagh Borough Council in 1989. She became the borough's first woman mayor in 1992.

She was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 1998 and became the MP for Strangford in 2001, taking the seat from the UUP.

In December 2009, Mrs Robinson, said she was quitting politics after admitting she is battling mental illness.

Mrs Robinson said she was leaving because of an ongoing battle with severe depression.

"The stress and strain of public life comes at a cost and my health has suffered," she said.

Earlier that year, she spent several months out of the public eye.

As well as a series of operations, she said she had been battling severe depression which she described as "a personality changing illness".

Her decision to leave office followed talks with her husband over Christmas.

'Abomination'

Mrs Robinson was the party's health spokesman and chaired the Assembly Health Committee from 2007.

That year she was suspended from Stormont for a day after refusing to withdraw comments she made about Health Minister Michael McGimpsey misleading the Assembly over a draft budget.

But it was to be in June 2008 that saw her embroiled in a major controversy over her beliefs about homosexuality.

Speaking on a BBC radio programme she described homosexuality as an "abomination" and that with help, gay people could be "turned around".

Her comments were made in the same week that a gay man had been badly beaten in a homophobic attack and there was a massive outcry.

An online petition calling for Prime Minister Gordon Brown to reprimand Mrs Robinson gathered 16,000 signatures.

Amnesty International and the Labour Party were among the many groups calling for action against her.

Mrs Robinson, a member of the Metropolitan Tabernacle Church in Belfast, defended her remarks claiming she aired them in the wrong environment before saying "love the sinner, not the sin".

A police investigation examined claims her comments breached hate crime laws but no charges were brought.

Following the scandal, gay rights group Stonewall voted her the UK Bigot of the Year 2008 while the gay news service Pink News landed her with the nickname "wicked witch of the north".

Further controversy followed earlier this year when the Westminster MPs expenses scandal broke.

She described the reporting of the story as "a witch hunt" which almost led to her leaving politics.

In an interview with the News Letter, she said the reporting of her and her husband's salaries and expenses was "totally wrong in most cases".

Among their claims was about £30,000 for food over a four-year period and £160,000 in mortgage interest.

Mrs Robinson reiterated that all their claims were legitimate at the time.



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