Northern Ireland

Gavin Robinson: News about Jeffrey Donaldson a ‘devastating revelation’

Gavin Robinson said it has ‘caused a tremendous shock’

Gavin Robinson has been appointed interim DUP leader
Gavin Robinson was appointed the DUP interim leader. PICTURE: LIAM MCBURNEY/PA (Liam McBurney/PA)

The interim leader of the DUP has described the news about Jeffrey Donaldson as a “devastating revelation”.

Speaking for the first time since it emerged that Sir Jeffrey is facing historical offences allegations, Gavin Robinson said it had “caused a tremendous shock, not just for myself personally, or my colleagues within the DUP, but for the community right across Northern Ireland”.

Mr Robinson also revealed it was “very late last night” when the party first became aware of the allegations against Sir Jeffrey.

He told Sky News: “So, in the coming days and months I think it is important none of us say anything or act in any way that would seek to prejudice what is now an ongoing criminal investigation”.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson Sir Jeffrey Donaldson (Liam McBurney/PA)

The East Belfast MP added that the DUP was now “focusing on the importance of making Northern Ireland work, instilling a sense of positivity in devolution and making sure that devolution works for our people”.

But he also criticised “some who have sought to score cheap political points”.

“In the immediate aftermath of such shocking news there will be some, and there have already been some, who have sought to score cheap political points, who have sought to engage in conspiracy theories, who somehow enjoy or will manipulate such devastating news for those involved,” he said.

“That’s not our position.

“Our position is recognising that what has happened is difficult and we have taken the right and appropriate steps today as a party.”

Asked if a by-election in Lagan Valley was now inevitable, Mr Robinson said: “What comes in the days and months, in that regard, are outside our control and that’s just a matter of fact”.