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DUP chief Robinson stable after heart scare

The condition of Northern Ireland's First Minister has stabilised in the wake of a suspected heart attack, a senior party colleague has said.

Democratic Unionist leader Peter Robinson (66) underwent a procedure at Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital yesterday.

He was transferred in an ambulance to the RVH's specialist cardiac unit after seeking treatment yesterday morning at the Ulster Hospital, which is close to his home in the Castlereagh hills.

DUP Finance Minister at Stormont Arlene Foster provided a brief update on his condition this morning.

"He has stabilised but still remains in hospital," she said.

Mr Robinson's health problems will see him miss a crucial Assembly debate on welfare reform which has been threatening to collapse the power-sharing institutions at Stormont.

A contentious voting mechanism triggered by Sinn Fein and the SDLP is set to prevent the passage of legislation to implement changes to the benefits system. The DUP has warned that blocking the Bill will land the Executive with an unsustainable £600m (€8.4m) funding gap.

Five years ago, when Mr Robinson (inset) temporarily stood down from office to deal with a political scandal that had engulfed his wife Iris, Mrs Foster took over as First Minister on a temporary basis.