December 05, 2014

Five years post-Irisgate

Cartoon of Iris and Peter Robinson by Ian Knox
Five years after the Iris Robinson scandal it is worth looking back on what the Irish-descended, English born, American blogger Andrew Sullivan wrote about the scandal: 
"The fusion of religion and politics and the use of Biblical authority to strip other people of civil rights is not, of course, unique to America. In Northern Ireland, for example, sectarian conflict was accompanied by incredibly repressive attitudes toward sexual minorities and women. When I went on Ulster television for "Virtually Normal" in 1995, it was the first ever broadcast across Northern Ireland dealing specifically with the homosexual question. They invited ten openly gay people to be in the studio audience, and only three had the balls to show up. And so it is not that surprising that a leading politician in Ulster would respond to a brutal gay-bashing by criticizing the attack but adding that she nonetheless believed that homosexuality was an "abomination" and made her feel "sick" and "nauseous". She believed that sexual orientation could be cured by psychiatry. She argued that:
"just as a murderer can be redeemed by the blood of Christ, so can a homosexual…. If anyone takes issue, they’re taking issue with the word of God". 
She stated that homosexuality was worse than child abuse: 
"There can be no viler act, apart from homosexuality and sodomy, than sexually abusing innocent children." 
You know what’s coming, don’t you? 
"The astonishing details of MP Iris Robinson’s affair with a 19-year-old - whom she had known since he was nine - have been laid bare today. Her lover, Kirk McCambley, now 21, owns a cafe in south Belfast and the visitors’ centre which houses the cafe was built by the council on which Mrs Robinson sits. The wife of the Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson helped Mr McCambley get started in business after first identifying a freshly developed council site on the banks of the river Lagan in south Belfast for his new venture and persuaded two local developers to stump up £50,000 in 2008 for catering equipment to kit out the cafe, Mr McCambley told the BBC. Astonishingly Mrs Robinson demanded a £5,000 kickback paid directly to her after her lover received the funding." From the Mail.
Where there is Christianism, there is usually hypocrisy, corruption and abuse. From Haggard to Maciel, from the Vatican to the Swaggarts, from Rove to Limbaugh, the sheer gulf between their public moralism and their private failings is vast. That’s because they’re human; and they deserve compassion and understanding, the compassion and understanding they always, always deny to others."
You can read the full report on the scandal here and below. But as the Irish News noted, on its front cover, the 236-page report didn't speak a word about the affair between Iris Robinson and Kirk McCambley.

And Newton Emerson shared a funny quip on the new development:

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