Image: Democratic Unionists Party member Iris Robinson
Paul Mcerlane  /  EPA file
Iris Robinson, wife of Northern Ireland's first minister, is under investigation for allegedly soliciting money from businessmen so her lover could open a restaurant.
updated 1/21/2010 5:45:49 PM ET 2010-01-21T22:45:49

The wife of Northern Ireland's leader is being investigated for allegedly helping to fund the business of a young man she was having an affair with, police said Thursday.

Police in Belfast said its organized crime branch specializing in financial investigations is probing whether Iris Robinson committed any criminal offense.

Robinson, who has resigned as a lawmaker, has admitted having an affair with a 19 year old when she was 58. The British Broadcasting Corp. reported that she allegedly solicited $80,000 from businessmen two years ago so her lover could open a restaurant.

Her husband, First Minister Peter Robinson, has stepped down temporarily to answer questions about her romantic and financial dealings. He denied allegations that he acted improperly by failing to warn parliamentary authorities about her fundraising activities.

The scandal has outraged Peter Robinson's socially conservative Protestant power base, and many fear his departure would undermine the Democratic Unionist Party's partnership with the Catholic Sinn Fein — critical to maintaining Northern Ireland's shaky coalition government.

Iris Robinson had publicly apologized for the affair, saying she began the relationship while she was suffering a bout of mental illness. She said she had encouraged friends to give her lover financial support, but provided few details.

Her husband said she was now receiving psychiatric treatment.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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