Peter Robinson: I declined DUP nomination for seat in the Lords

Former DUP leader Peter Robinson at the 2017 Westminster election count at the Titanic exhibition centre
Former DUP leader Peter Robinson at the 2017 Westminster election count at the Titanic exhibition centre

Peter Robinson has revealed that he asked the party not to nominate him for a peerage when he stepped down as DUP leader and first minister.

Mr Robinson said he was going public with the information after “conflicting stories” in the media and a number of inquiries about his health.

In recent days, a number of newspaper articles have suggested Mr Robinson was on the nomination list for the House of Lords, while others expressed surprise that his name had not been put forward.

In a Facebook message posted yesterday, he said: “A number of people have sent me messages following conflicting stories that have appeared in the print media, some expressing surprise that I had not been included on a list of DUP nominees for the House of Lords and others indicating that I had been nominated.

“I know nothing about the accuracy of the other names on the list to which they refer but I do know my own position.

“Some, who have written to me, have asked if my health has deteriorated while others have asked why the party did not propose me or whether I am unhappy with the present leadership.

“Rather than allow a media controversy to arise when there is no substance I trust those who have sent me messages will forgive me if I cover the points raised in this manner rather than replying individually.”

Mr Robinson went on to explain: “Far from the party bypassing me, immediately on my retirement as party leader and first minister I was asked by Arlene [Foster] and Nigel [Dodds] if the party could nominate me for a peerage.

“I thanked them for their thoughtful consideration but declined as I wanted a period to recover from my heart attack and take on new challenges. Happily, I have had no reoccurrence of my heart problem though I am presently recuperating from a recent minor operation.”

Commenting on his current relationship with the DUP, he said he was “absolutely, wholeheartedly and unalterably supportive of the party, Arlene and her leadership team”.

The former long-serving East Belfast MP added: “More recently party colleagues raised the issue of membership of the Lords with me again. I have once more asked them not to proceed with my nomination at present for a range of reasons.

“Chief among them is that I firmly believe that the party, who are in a confidence and supply agreement with the government (which is hugely beneficial for Northern Ireland), need dedicated working peers.

“Also, given my business responsibilities and other projects in which I am presently involved including a new commitment I have just undertaken, I would be unable to fulfil this role, at this time, to the standard I believe it deserves.”

Mr Robinson concluded by saying: “So, no mystery, no intrigue, just a pragmatic decision.”