Peter robinson

Calls for Robinson’s resignation

Northern Ireland’s first minister is facing calls to step aside, after a BBC report about a property deal near his Belfast home.

The calls were made by two Ulster Unionist members of the Stormont Executive who say the allegations against Peter Robinson are severely tarnishing the reputation of the institutions.

Earlier, Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, said Robinson has “questions to answer” after reports that he and his wife Irish bought a piece of land for £5. The land unlocked access to a potentially significant development site.

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In a joint statement, Sir Reg Empey and Michael McGimpsey said the first minister should step aside until legal advice has been sought. Sir Reg said confidence in the political processes and institutions is being eroded.

McGimpsey said the allegation cast a shadow over the integrity of politics. He said the first minister should act immediately so that confidence in government may be restored.

Martin McGuinness had earlier said he wanted to hear Robinson’s explanation.

The DUP responded by saying the BBC report was an example of the “ongoing BBC smear campaign” against its leader.

The party also said Robinson would not be stepping aside.

“Reg and Michael should stop raising smokescreens to distract the media from their internal problems,” said Simon Hamilton, MLA.

“At a time when the UUP has lost its sole MP and a senior MLA, with speculation that others are going to resign, Reg should resolve his own problems before launching bitter attacks on others,” the DUP man said.

Robinson temporarily stepped aside as first minister earlier this year after another BBC report found that his wife Iris received £50,000 from two businessmen which she used to help set up her young lover’s business. Mrs. Robinson, who was an MP and MLA for Strangford, has since retired from politics on health grounds.