Edwin Poots steps down for 'surgery and recuperation'
Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) minister Edwin Poots has stepped down from the executive to undergo surgery for a cancer diagnosis.
He temporarily resigned the post of minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs on Monday evening.
East Antrim MLA Gordon Lyons has been appointed as his replacement.
Mr Poots said he was stepping back happily "in full knowledge I have overwhelming support from the DUP family".
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First Minister Arlene Foster said the change was only temporary, to allow him to recuperate from surgery.
"We give Edwin our best wishes and assure him and his family of our prayers.
"We look forward to having Edwin back at work, having made a full recovery."
Foyle MLA Gary Middleton is taking over Mr Lyons' responsibilities as junior minister.
Mr Poots has previously revealed his fear that the cancer would spread after urgent surgeries were delayed due to Covid-19.
The cancer was discovered when he was in hospital in December for emergency surgery to remove his appendix.