Peter Robinson not among senior DUP figures linked to the Lords
AN ex-DUP MP who shared a platform with notorious loyalist Billy Wright and the party's departing MEP are being considered for peerages, according to reports yesterday.
Former Mid Ulster and South Antrim MP William McCrea and MEP Diane Dodds are both being linked with seats in the House of Lords.
Mr McCrea lost his South Antrim Westminster seat in 2015 when he was ousted against the odds by Ulster Unionist Danny Kinahan, while Brexit means Mrs Dodds will be expected to vacate her seat in European Parliament next year.
However, the reports in yesterday's Sunday Life, which quotes DUP insiders, make no reference to the party's ex-leader and former Stormont first minister Peter Robinson, who like his predecessor Ian Paisley was widely expected to be granted a peerage after his retirement in 2015.
According to the DUP source, the bid to get seats in the Lords for Mr McCrea and Mrs Dodds is "basically a done deal" .
The omission of Mr Robinson (69) from the DUP source's discussion of potential peerages was described by one commentator as "glaring".
Irish News columnist Brian Feeney said the one-time East Belfast MP and MLA was an "obvious candidate" for the Lords and that his failure thus far to gain a peerage was a "complete mystery".
"Peter Robinson has been out of frontline politics for more than two years now so it seems odd that he hasn't been granted a place in the Lords," Mr Feeney said.
"Most of his predecessors and contemporaries – the likes of David Trimble, Reg Empey and Maurice Morrow – have all been granted places in the House of Lords, so you would have expected Peter Robinson to be there too by now."
In 2015, Mr Robinson won damages from satirical magazine Private Eye after it wrongly claimed he had been nominated to the House of Lords only to be vetoed by a Westminster watchdog.
The settlement came after it emerged that the House of Lords Appointments Commission had blocked a DUP nominee for a peerage.
The unnamed person was one of seven rejected by the commission.
DUP sources later claimed the person rejected was a multi-millionaire philanthropist.
Mr Feeney also spoke of surprise about the possibility of Mr McCrea receiving a peerage.
In 1996, the then Mid Ulster MP shared a platform with notorious loyalist Billy 'King Rat' Wright, who was later assasinated in the Maze prison.
Mr McCrea showed his public backing for the Portadown loyalist after he had been expelled from the mainstream UVF.