FIRST Minister Peter Robinson is expected to spend the night in hospital after undergoing a “procedure”.
The DUP leader was transferred in an ambulance to the Royal Victoria Hospital’s specialist cardiac unit – the lead centre in Northern Ireland for heart problems.
He had been admitted to Ulster Hospital around 9 am this morning from his Co Down home complaining of “chest pains”.
It is believed he suffered a mile heart attack.
A spokeswoman for the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust confirmed: “Mr Robinson underwent a procedure this morning and is currently recovering in the Royal Victoria Hospital.”
His admission comes on the eve of a crucial debate on welfare reform which has been threatening to collapse the power-sharing institutions at Stormont.
A DUP statement said: “The First Minister felt unwell this morning and has been admitted to the hospital for some further tests.”
Prime Minister David Cameron, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness have all wished Mr Robinson a speedy recovery.
There have also messages of goodwill from party colleagues Nigel Dodds, Jeffrey Donaldson, Ian Paisley, Peter Weir, Gordon Dunne and Sammy Douglas and also from UUP leader Mike Nesbitt.
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.