Poots to stand down as Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister

Northern Ireland Minister for the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Edwin Poots is to stand down from his role at 11:59pm tonight (February 1, 2020) to facilitate surgery and recuperation.

DUP leader and Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster has written to the Northern Ireland Assembly Speaker and nominated Gordon Lyons as Minister for the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.

Mrs Foster has also informed the Speaker that Foyle MLA Gary Middleton will take on the responsibilities of Junior Minister in the Office of the First Minister.

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.”

Also Read: ‘Leave no farmer behind’ – Poots tells OFC of vision for NI farm support

The news comes less than two weeks after Minister Poots confirmed he has cancer.

A tumour was discovered in the DUP MLA’s right kidney before Christmas after it was spotted on a scan taken as part of his emergency treatment for a perforated appendix.

“I was feeling well and had absolutely no signs, and absolutely no symptoms,” he told the News Letter at the time. “I wouldn’t have known about the cancer growth had it not been for the appendix.

“I’m hugely grateful that I have felt the hand of God upon my life, with that happening.”

Poots, who is also a former Northern Ireland Health Minister, said he would need to have the kidney removed, but added that his prognosis is positive and he is not expected to require chemotherapy or radiotherapy.