Edwin Poots makes return as NI Agriculture Minister

Lagan Valley MLA Edwin Poots has returned as Northern Ireland’s Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister.

Poots stood down as the region’s agriculture minister five weeks ago to facilitate cancer treatment.

East Antrim MLA Gordon Lyons was appointed to stand into the role temporarily. Poots returned to his duties as an MLA just two weeks ago. However, did not return immediately as minister.

Announcing his return online, Poots wrote: “Great to be back at the ministerial desk today.

So thankful to be on the right side of treatment, and to the exceptional staff who administered it. Plenty of work to be done.

First Minister Arlene Foster said she was “delighted” to see Edwin Poots recovered and back to his role.

“I am delighted to welcome back Edwin Poots as Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs and Gordon Lyons to the Executive Office as Junior Minister.

“I am grateful to Gary Middleton for his contribution as Junior Minister during this time… Both demonstrated the depth and talent within the party.”

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

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.

“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.”