Last Robinson leaves Castlereagh stronghold

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THE last Robinson will today resign from the council which the family has dominated since First Minister Peter Robinson was first elected 36 years ago.

The DUP leader’s son, Gareth, is resigning from Castlereagh Borough Council – a local authority which less than six years ago had three members of the Robinson family as councillors – to concentrate on his family and his communications business.

Mr Robinson, 34, said that he was sad to leave the council but would not rule out a return to politics at some time in the future.

Less than two years ago Mr Robinson – who was first elected to the council on the outskirts of south east Belfast in 2005 – topped the poll in the Castlereagh East ward with 1,804 votes.

His father was first elected to the council in 1977 and for three decades dominated its proceedings until resigning in 2007 to concentrate on the Assembly.

Mr Robinson’s mother, Iris, was also a councillor from 1993 until a scandal in 2010 led to her resignation.

Mr Robinson told the News Letter: “It’s obviously sad for me in that I’ve lived most of my life involved in politics.

“But I’ve recently started a new business and in the last four months I’ve also been very blessed with a baby boy, Joshua Benjamin Robinson, so my time is considerably strained.

“I’ve had to obviously spend time with the business and Joshua – and the political side has taken a back seat now.

“I’ve resigned my position as of tomorrow [Thursday] and that will be me as just a private citizen.”

Mr Robinson said that his seat is likely to be filled by a co-option and said that the DUP branch has chosen names which have gone to the DUP leader and party officers to make the decision.

“I think the lasting impression that the Robinson family will leave is probably the continuation of the lowest rates in Northern Ireland and some of the best facilities in Northern Ireland and great investment in the Castlereagh area.

“While it’s the end of this part, I haven’t said when or if I’ll ever come back again, but I’m pretty sure it will happen sometime.”

Mr Robinson said that the Review of Public Administration – which will see Castlereagh amalgamated with Lisburn council – was not a factor in his decision.

“This is purely [down to] business and family dimensions; those are purely the only issues that are making me take the steps that I am.”