Current Affairs

Homophobic MP Iris Robinson exposed over expenses

PinkNews Staff Writer April 8, 2009
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Iris Robinson, the Northern Ireland MP who said gays were an “abomination” and compared homosexuality to paedophilia, has been exposed by a Sunday newspaper for claiming almost £600,000 a year in salaries and expenses with her husband.

Mrs Robinson is the Democratic Unionist Party MP for Strangford and her husband is the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party.

The News of the World reports that the couple earn six salaries between them and employ four family members as staff.

Neither have broken any rules but the claims are likely to anger voters in the wake of other relevations about MPs’ expenses.

Mrs Robinson earns £63,291 for her position as an MP, £24,296 as an Assembly member and as chairwoman of its health and social services committee and £9,550 as a councillor for the Castlereagh borough in Northern Ireland.

Mr Robinson takes home £63,291 as MP for East Belfast, £71,434 for his role as First Minister plus a third of the £43,101 salary for being an Assembly member because he is also an MP.

They also claim more than £150,000 for the salaries of their staff with Mr Robinson employing their daughter Rebekah as office manager and private secretary and son Gareth as parliamentary assistant.

Mrs Robinson employs their other son Jonathan as office manager and daughter-in-law Ellen Robinson as part-time secretary.

According to the newspaper, the couple claimed the controversial second homes allowance last year, receiving a total of £40,342. They own three homes in Belfast, London and Florida worth more than £1.3million.

The couple spent almost £20,000 on flying between Belfast and London

A source close to the Robinsons said: “With Iris and Peter, it’s more a case of what recession?

“Their taste for expensive furnishings and decoration betrays the magnificent opulence the couple enjoy in stark contrast to the poverty of many of their constituents.”

A spokesman for the Robinsons said: “All expenses claimed are used to run a full network of advice offices in both constituencies.

“The individual salary paid to each of them is no different than for any other Parliamentarians.

“How they choose to spend their salaries is entirely a matter for them.”

Last month, police said Mrs Robinson would not be prosecuted over remarks she had made about gays.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph in June, she said: “I cannot think of anything more sickening than a child being abused. It is comparable to the act of homosexuality. I think they are all comparable. I feel totally repulsed by both.”

She also suggested that there are therapies to “cure” people of homosexuality, saying:
“I have a very lovely psychiatrist who works with me in my offices and his Christian background is that he tries to help homosexuals trying to turn away from what they are engaged in.

“And I have met people who have turned around to become heterosexual.”

More: Northern Ireland

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