Robinson sex scandal inspires new play

Robinson sex scandal inspires new play

A controversial new play inspired by a sex scandal surrounding the shamed MP wife of the North’s First Minister Peter Robinson is set to open in Belfast.

Disgraced Iris Robinson, who sat in the Northern Ireland Assembly and the House of Commons, quit politics after the shock revelation earlier this year that she had an affair with a teenager 41 years her junior.

God’s Country was written by Colin Bell, a gay man, 33, from Bangor, County Down, after Mrs Robinson sparked a huge row by calling homosexuality “an abomination” which she said in 2008 made her sick.

Mr Bell, living in Edinburgh with his long-term partner, said: “Iris Robinson may have been engaged in a homophobic rant but my play isn’t a rant against her.

“It is an examination of how other politicians in Northern Ireland are dealing with homosexuality.

“And it also explores how the DUP have changed in the wake of Irisgate.”

The playwright was bullied at school because of his sexuality and left Northern Ireland aged 17 to escape the abuse.

Mrs Robinson, now 61, also arranged £50,000 (59,928) in secret loans for lover Kirk McCambley to open a new cafe on the banks of the River Lagan in Belfast.

The mother-of-three and her husband, who’s the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, were also dubbed the Swish Family Robinson after it was disclosed that they had received over £570,000 (€683,185) in salaries and expenses in one year alone.

The DUP said its former politician, who had tried to take her own life after confessing about her affair to her husband, was on 24-hour suicide watch and it later emerged she was undergoing psychiatric treatment in a top London clinic.

But the glamorous Mrs Robinson was later photographed going on shopping trips to expensive boutiques in fashionable and exclusive parts of London.

Mr Bell’s play is one of three new productions about life in the North being staged by the Tinderbox Theatre Company in the Crescent Arts Centre in Belfast which was featured in the BBC’s Restoration programme in 2003 and which recently re-opened after a £4.5m (€5.4m) renovation.

A second play, the Cleanroom by John McCann, centres on how victims of the Troubles and other violence like car crime are dealing with the past.

The third play, 'Everything Between Us', by David Ireland has already toured America and focuses on a fictional truth and reconciliation commission set up in Stormont, home to the Northern Ireland Assembly.

The plays run from September 29 to October 16 and among the six-strong ensemble of actors is former 'EastEnders' star Tara Lynne O’Neill who played a nanny to Phil Mitchell’s baby daughter Louise.


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