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Deirdre Hargey stands down as Communities Minister to undergo surgery

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Deirdre Hargey (Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye/PA)

Deirdre Hargey (Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye/PA)

PA

Deirdre Hargey (Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye/PA)

Sinn Fein MLA Deirdre Hargey has announced she is temporarily stepping aside from her role as Communities Minister for health reasons.

In a statement, the South Belfast representative said she has been admitted to hospital and will be undergoing surgery in the coming days, which will require time to recover from.

Former Executive minister Caral Ni Chuilin is to fill the position until Ms Hargey's return.

Ms Hargey was co-opted to the Assembly to replace Mairtin O Muilleoir in December last year and was installed as Communities Minister following the reformation of the Executive in January.

The former Lord Mayor of Belfast said she has informed the First and Deputy First Ministers of the news, as well as Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald.

"Due to illness I have been admitted to hospital, and am to undergo surgery in the coming days, which will require time to properly recover," she said.

“In light of these exceptional personal circumstances I am unable in the short term to discharge my ministerial duties, or participate fully in the Executive Committee.

"I have also written to Joint Heads of Government Michelle O'Neill and Arlene Foster to inform them of my decision to stand aside from my ministerial post.

"I look forward to being able to resume ministerial responsibilities in a number of weeks following my treatment and recovery."

Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill wished her colleague well in her recovery and thanked her for the "excellent work" she has done to date.

"I look forward to her returning to that post on her recovery and hope she will be back behind her desk as soon as possible," she added.

“I am appointing Caral Ni Chuilin as Minister for Communities on a temporary basis until Deirdre Hargey's return.

"I wish Caral well and know that she will bring a wealth of experience, determination and dedication to the post."

Belfast Telegraph