DUP leader Peter Robinson has been admitted to hospital this morning.
It is understood the First Minister had complained of “chest pains”.
A party spokesman has confirmed that the 66-year-old east Belfast MLA is in hospital.
It is believed he is being treated in the cardiac unit at the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald, east Belfast, for a suspected heart condition.
He has since been transferred by ambulance under armed guard by his PSNI Close Protection Unit bodyguards to the cardiac unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital.
Said the DUP spokesman: “He has been admitted to the hospital for some further tests.”
The admission to hospital of the First Minister comes just 24 hours before the crunch debate on the Welfare Reform Bill takes place in the Assembly.
Both Sinn Fein and the SDLP have launch ‘petitions of concern’ to block the bills passage through the chamber.
It is likely that if the First Minister is unable to attend the debate Finance Minister Arlene Foster will take over the reins.