The North’s First Minister could be facing a night in hospital after suffering a suspected heart attack.
Peter Robinson, 66, underwent a procedure at Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital earlier today.
He was transferred in an ambulance to the RVH’s specialist cardiac unit after seeking treatment at the Ulster Hospital which is close to his home in the Castlereagh hills.
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.
The RVH, in west Belfast, is North’s largest hospital and is the main centre for cardiology.
A DUP statement said: “The First Minister felt unwell this morning and has been admitted to the hospital for some further tests.”
Concerned to hear First Minister Peter Robinson has been admitted to hospital.My thoughts & prayers are with him,Iris & family.— Martin McGuinness (@M_McGuinness_SF) May 25, 2015
Messages of good will have flooded in from across the UK, Ireland and America throughout much of the day.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron was among the first politicians to express concern.
He said on Twitter: “My best wishes to Northern Ireland’s First Minister Peter Robinson who is in hospital. I hope he has a speedy recovery.”
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, The North’s Secretary Theresa Villiers and Sinn Féin Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness also used Twitter to show their support.
Mr McGuinness said: “Concerned to hear First Minister Peter Robinson has been admitted to hospital. My thoughts & prayers are with him, Iris & family.”
Mr Robinson, a father of three, has been leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and First Minister since 2008.
In contrast to his predecessor, the firebrand preacher Ian Paisley, his tenure has been characterised by mixed relations with his coalition partners, Sinn Féin.
DUP colleagues including the party’s deputy leader Nigel Dodds, new East Belfast MP Gavin Robinson, North Antrim MP Ian Paisley and former health minister Jim Wells have also added their best wishes.
Mr Dodds said he believed the First Minister had taken ill during the night.
Meanwhile, Ian Paisley whose father spent several weeks in hospital in 2012 said he understood what the strain on the family.
He said: “I know what it is like. I send him my best wishes and hope that he makes a speedy recovery.”