Edwin Poots is set to step down as Minister for the Department of Agriculture before midnight tonight (February 1st) for surgery and recuperation.
The news comes after Poots was diagnosed with kidney cancer just before Christmas.
DUP leader and First Minister, Arlene Foster, has penned a letter to the Northern Ireland Assembly Speaker regarding the nomination of Gordon Lyons to the position.
In a statement, Mrs Foster said: “We give Edwin our best wishes and assure him and his family of our prayers. This is a temporary change, and we look forward to having Edwin back at work having made a full recovery.”
Edwin Poots steps down
Poots openly discussed his cancer battle on the Stephen Nolan Show on BBC One in recent weeks.
The DUP MLA said his cancer was discovered during a recent spell in hospital where he underwent an appendix operation.
Within the space of 24 hours, the minister underwent surgery, was diagnosed with Covid-19, but was asymptomatic and was told he had a growth on his right kidney.
“I have a strong personal faith and I know some people will deride that and sneer, but I felt very strongly that God had put me on my back so that this would be discovered and that he has a further purpose for me in life. That is something that I took great comfort from.” he told the radio presenter.
The former health minister says he fears that the cancerous growth on his kidney could spread because of surgery delays due to Covid-19 pressures.
On the radio station, he said he was told that his surgery may be delayed for approximately six or eight weeks. Because of this, he said he would consider private health care.
“At the end of the day, if I have to spend £10,000 or £15,000, I don’t know much it would be, to be honest.”
“If I have to spend that, I will do, because it is better to have something out of you that has the potential to take your life than carry on. It may be in England, the Republic of Ireland or here, I don’t know.” he revealed during the interview.
Poots said his prognosis is “good” and he does not need radiotherapy or chemotherapy but requires an operation.