It’s possible my hearing was playing tricks with me, but did the DUP’s Alastair Ross, chair of the Standards and Privileges committee at Stormont, speaking about the committe’s report on the Irisgate affair, actually use the word “transparency” ? Did I get that right? Because immediately after he’d patted himself and his party and maybe the committee on their commitment to…you know, I’d nearly swear he said “transparency” – immediately after the word, the camera cut to several shots of the report, showing more blacked-out portions than I’ve seen since the Black and White Minstrel Show back in the day.
Certainly Mike Nesbitt wasn’t impressed. He compared the report to “the North Korean culture of tell-you-nothing”. A bit unfair, Mike. It did show you some bits. There was white as well as black. Anna Lo wasn’t full of admiration either: “I’m concerned that too much was deleted from the commissioner’s report and what has been published does not do justice to his original report”.
Apparently the Standards and Privileges committee voted to have these many bits blacked out, with Mike Nesbitt voting against three of the blot-outs and Anna Lo two – at least that’s what the DUP’s Jimmy Spratt said. An earlier draft of the report would have been published a year ago only a lawyer for Iris said it could have a negative impact on her health.
So tell me this: is Iris OK now? Did the report with the multitude of ‘redactions’ (that’s Jimmy Spratt’s word – impressive word, too) have any negative impact on her health? And what exactly was Iris’s medical condition in the first place? Have we ever had a public statement by a medical consultant as to what was wrong with her?
I’d stress that none of this has anything to do with Peter Robinson, other than that she’s his wife. A man cannot be held responsible for the actions of his wife, and vice versa. But the whole Irisgate affair was cloaked in such general vagueness about where she was and what her condition was, the issuing of this report with all its blacked-out – sorry, sorry, redacted bits – seems a fitting conclusion to a spectacularly-technicolor event.