Iris Robinson

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Iris Robinson was the DUP MP (from 2001) and MLA (from 1998) for Strangford. She is the wife of Peter Robinson, DUP leader and First Minister of Northern Ireland.

In December 2009 Robinson announced that she would be leaving politics because of an ongoing battle with depression[1]. In January 2010, following revelations about an extra-marital affair, she resigned as both MP and MLA.

Robinson describes herself as a born again Christian,[2] and has publicly stated that "the government has the responsibility to uphold God's laws".[3]

Contents

Healthcare and Medical Research

Abortion

In May 2008 in the abortion amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (now Act), Iris Robinson voted for the abortion time limit to be lowered to 12 weeks[4]. After four separate parliamentary votes on varying time limits, the majority of MPs voted to keep the abortion time limit at 24 weeks, hence no abortion amendments were added to the bill. Also the Abortion Act 1967 does not currently apply to Northern Ireland.

The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee report of October 2007[5] had found no good evidence of change since the limit was set in 1990, and hence no new reason for a reduction. However, it acknowledged that this was only one of many factors to be taken into account when legislating, and did not make any recommendations as to how MPs should vote.

Stem Cell research

Robinson opposes Stem cell research, and spoke to the House during the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill debate:

"I make no apology for speaking as a born-again Christian. I represent the voice of those who look to a higher authority—one to whom we will all one day answer for the decisions that we make in the House. Each one of us is an individual of amazing worth. I approach the Bill through the central fact that we are all created in the image of God. Much science will be discussed and debated, but I want to remind us all that we need to consider the case fully—both biologically, through the logical argument of our God-given minds, and with respect to the mind of God.
We are told in the book of Genesis that we are created "in the image of God".
Mankind is not made in any one person's image, but in the image of God—the height of holiness and purity—and that gives man a sacred standing. It makes man fundamentally different from the rest of creation, including animals. We are not just another animal. We are created special, and that fact must be treated with respect. That tenet is central to human identity. The creation of hybrid embryos undermines our dignity and is fundamentally disrespectful of the boundaries of nature. It would tarnish the "image of God" present in all of us, would breach the biblical prohibition of the mixing of kinds, would confuse lineage, would fundamentally affect all human relationships, especially marriage and the family, and would cross an ethical line by creating something essentially new but unnecessary."[6]

MMR Vaccine

Iris Robinson signed the February 2009 Early Day Motion 754: MMR Vaccine and the Media supporting the use of the MMR vaccine. The motion expressed disappointment with the reporting of the vaccine by Jeni Barnett on her LBC radio show in January 2009, and expressed the hope that future reporting of the issue of MMR would be less sensationalist and more evidence-based.[7]

Animals in Medical Research

In 2006, Iris Robinson signed Early Day Motion 1850: Animals in Medical Research which noted that "animal research is only permitted where there is no better alternative and that pain and suffering are minimised and balanced against the potential benefit to humans and animals", supported "the building of the new state of the art biomedical research laboratory at Oxford University", condemned "unlawful animal rights extremism, including any violence, harassment or intimidation of those associated with lawful animal research", and supported "the well-regulated use of animals in medical research".[8]

Religion

Following the adverts bought by the Atheist Bus Campaign on public transport in January 2009, Robinson signed Early Day Motion 403 calling the adverts "religiously offensive and morally unhelpful"[9], and Early Day Motion 424 claiming that the rationale behind the adverts was that non-religious people can be less careful about their lifestyle choices and life's consequences[10].

Views on homosexuality

In June 2008, shortly after a gay man in Northern Ireland had been physically assaulted, she made comments on the BBC Radio Ulster's Stephen Nolan Show offering to recommend homosexuals to psychiatric counselling. While condemning the attack, she said during the broadcast:

"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. I'm happy to put any homosexual in touch with this gentleman and I have met people who have turned around and become heterosexuals."[11]

Her comments were rebuffed by representatives of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the Rainbow Project, the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland, [12],Sinn Féin,[13] and the Social Democratic and Labour Party.[14][15] The psychiatrist in question, Dr. Paul Miller, later resigned as her "adviser", and temporarily stood down from his post of Consultant pyschiatrist at Belfast's Mater hospital.[16]

Robinson again repeated her homophobic viewpoint in the Northern Ireland Assembly on 30 June 2008 when questioned by Health Minister Michael McGimpsey[17][18] in a discussion about "LGBT Groups: Mental-Health Needs". Speaking in a Northern Ireland Grand Committee session on Risk Assessment and Management of Sex Offenders, she also asserted:

“There can be no viler act, apart from homosexuality and sodomy, than sexually abusing innocent children”[19]

She reiterated her statement to the Belfast Telegraph on 21 June 2008[20], but later claimed that she had been "misrepresented" on Hansard.[21] Her claims of misrepresentation were challenged when Alliance Party Executive Director Gerry Lynch confirmed with Hansard staff that Robinson's comments were in fact correctly quoted.[22] Further controversy was caused on 17 July 2008 when Robinson phoned in to the Stephen Nolan Show[23] debating the issue of abortion and asserted that "It is the government's responsibility to uphold God's law". She also accused Stephen Nolan on air of "peddling lies" and "misrepresenting her comments" on previous editions of the show regarding homosexuality and of making sure that various newspapers misrepresented her views.

References

  1. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/8433117.stm
  2. http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debate/?id=2008-05-12b.1124.0
  3. The Stephen Nolan Show, BBC Radio Ulster, 17 July 2008 BBC archive
  4. http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2008-05-20&number=199&mpn=Iris_Robinson
  5. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmselect/cmsctech/1045/104502.htm
  6. http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debate/?id=2008-05-12c.1124.0
  7. http://edmi.parliament.uk/EDMi/EDMDetails.aspx?EDMID=37811
  8. http://edmi.parliament.uk/EDMi/EDMDetails.aspx?EDMID=30324
  9. http://edmi.parliament.uk/EDMi/EDMDetails.aspx?EDMID=37418
  10. http://edmi.parliament.uk/EDMi/EDMDetails.aspx?EDMID=37444
  11. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/7439661.stm
  12. Alliance blasts Robinson's offensive comments on gay people, Alliance blasts Robinson's offensive comments on gay people, Alliance Party, 6 June 2008, accessed on 24 January 2009.
  13. 'Gay counselling' call rejected, BBC News, 6 June 2008, accessed 7 June 2008
  14. Kelly Condemns Homophobic Robinson, SDLP
  15. McDermott Slams Robinsons Homophobic Remarks, SDLP
  16. Belfast Telegraph - "Psychiatrist in gay storm steps down from Belfast hospital", 13 August 2008
  17. The Assembly - Official Report, Monday, 30 June 2008
  18. BBC NEWS: "Gay comments twisted"
  19. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708
  20. http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/iris-gays-more-vile-than-child-abusers-13913517.html
  21. BBC NEWS: "Gay comment inaccurate" - Robinson
  22. "Alliance Party - Hansard confirms Robinson correctly quoted on homosexuality and paedophilia"
  23. BBC newsreport on Iris Robinson's comments re homosexuality and abortion

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