What’s eating Peter Robinson?

6 01 2010

What is wrong with Peter Robinson?

In RoI, Brian Lenihan is undergoing treatment for cancer. He has pledged to remain in his job while receiving treatment. It is a very brave decision. Who could blame Lenihan for standing aside and pledging a return once his treatment completes?

It is a very difficult time to lead a nation’s finances. The challenges facing the public purse – particularly in the South – are immense. Lenihan has said that he will stay in post and see the job through.

The political climate in Northern Ireland is similarly tense, possibly moreso. There is a real fear that the Assembly will collapse over the failure to reach agreement over policing and justice. The last-ditch shuttle diplomacy continues – RoI Foreign Minister is in town today to talk to Shaun Woodward.

So where is Peter Robinson? According to @EamonnMallie:

Peter Robinson is staying at home all this week “looking after family matters” according to a party spokesman

In his New Year message (which is less than a week old) Peter Robinson said:

I look forward to 2010 and see it as the year in which devolved government must find its feet and build upon its successes. All of the Parties in the Executive must work to undo the unhealthy skepticism towards devolution.

The DUP website slogan reads: ‘Strong leadership in challenging times’.

Peter Robinson is committed to making devolution work. So what on earth, given the crisis that we’re in, is keeping him away from the political arena at present? Why is Peter not seeing the job through?

The next Executive meeting is January 14 and the next FM question time is January 18. Does PR plan to attend either? Sinn Féin’s ruling ardchomhairle meets on Saturday. Will PR make a public gesture before then?

The lengthy absence of a head of government has a destabilising effect and doesn’t bear repetition. The issue that detains him now – will it recur?

At what point can a FM be compelled to leave his home and return to his desk? If Brian Lenihan’s personal disposition is considered in the public interest, can it be right to think that Robinson’s is not?

In my view, PR is a head of government, this matter is in the public interest and a frank discussion needs to be taking place. How much longer can PR be allowed to go on silent running?

PS. Incidentally, I see Wikileaks is back up and running again from today.

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