Peter Robinson to be next First Minister
Peter Robinson to be next First Minister

The DUP has elected Peter Robinson to succeed Ian Paisley as its new leader and First Minister in the northern Executive.

The East Belfast MP was the choice of the DUP’s Assembly Group to take over from Paisley, with North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds as the new deputy leader.

Assembly members unanimously agreed a joint nomination of Mr Robinson -- currently the Six-County Finance Minister -- and Mr Dodds, who is Economy Minister.

The party’s 120-member Executive Committee is due to ratify the nominations on Thursday, a process understood to be a formality.

Robinson has been the deputy leader of the party since 1980 and the MP for East Belfast since 1979. He has long garned a reputation as a unionist hardliner.

In defiance of the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement, Robinson marched a group of 500 loyalists across the border into the village of Clontibret, County Monaghan, in the 26 Counties.

Led by Robinson, the loyalist mob entered the Garda police station in the village and physically assaulted two police officers, before holding a military drill in the square. Robinson was later arrested.

He pleaded guilty to unlawful assembly and was fined #17,500 in a Drogheda court because of the incident.

Due to this, Robinson briefly resigned from the DUP deputy leadership.

In a subsequent court appearance in Dundalk Peter Robinson again led a large loyalist mob into the town which led to a riot. At his trial the judge described Peter Robinson as “a senior extremist politician.”

In November 1986 Peter Robinson spoke at the Ulster Hall rally which launched the paramilitary Ulster Resistance group, which collaborated with other loyalist death squads to to procure arms.

Peter Robinson was photographed wearing the paramilitary regalia of beret and military fatigues at an Ulster Resistance rally.

In recent years, Robinson came to be seen as a more practical individual than “firebrand” Paisley and was considered a politician nationalists “could do business with”.

Following the St Andrew’s Agreement, Robinson became the natural successor to Paisley and allied with extremist elements within the DUP to push for his early departure.

Nigel Dodds is expected to take over as Finance Minister when Mr Robinson becomes First Minister after Paisley steps down. This is due to take place shortly after an investment conference in Belfast scheduled to take place from May 7th to May 9th.

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