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Peter Robinson leaves hospital for Stormont talks

By Nevin Farrell and Chris McCullough

Peter Robinson left his hospital bed last night after a fresh health scare - and is due to go back into the cauldron of crisis political talks today.

The 66-year-old DUP leader, who stepped aside as First Minister earlier this month, spent Saturday in the Royal Victoria Hospital.

A Belfast Health Trust spokesman confirmed he was discharged yesterday evening. "Whenever he was with us he was comfortable and stable," he added.

The DUP leader was taken to hospital for an adverse reaction to medication he was prescribed after a heart attack in May.

DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson told the Belfast Telegraph "no one should underestimate" Mr Robinson's determination.

Mr Donaldson said: "Peter is planning to be with the delegation when we have the talks. We understand there was a problem with Peter's medication and hopefully that has been addressed. He is determined to lead our team in the talks that will take place this week, and he recognises the importance of the issues that need to be addressed. No one should under estimate his determination to have them resolved."

A party spokesman added: "The DUP leader will be at Stormont on Monday morning, where he will meet party colleagues regarding the talks.

"Mr Robinson expresses his gratitude to the medical staff who treated him so professionally during his short stay in hospital and the ambulance staff who were the first responders."

A DUP spokesman had said earlier yesterday that Mr Robinson had been admitted "as a precautionary measure".

The party leader suffered a heart attack in May that he blamed on a poor diet and a lack of exercise. He returned to his job after he had stents inserted, but he has since endured a punishing schedule with the political crisis at Stormont.

"I blame myself and nobody else but myself," Mr Robinson said after his illness in May. "If you looked at my diet, you would cringe. It's all snacking and fast foods and all the things that you shouldn't do. Exercise? You're picked up from the door and dropped at the door, so it's all the worst lifestyle things."

Before he was discharged yesterday, politicians from across the political spectrum wished Mr Robinson a speedy recovery.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness tweeted: "Concerned that Peter Robinson admitted to hospital but pleased he is comfortable and doing well. Wishing him a speedy recovery."

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt also wished the DUP leader all the best.

Mr Nesbitt said: "It is concerning to hear that Peter has been admitted to hospital. I hope it is not serious and he will be back on his feet as soon as possible."

Today's talks will be hosted by Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers and Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan. Ahead of negotiations, Mrs Villiers urged politicians to seize the chance for a bright future.

She said: "These talks are crucial. We must deal with continued activity by paramilitary organisations and bring about the full implementation of the Stormont House Agreement.

"I recognise the scale of the task ahead. We are dealing with very difficult issues. But Northern Ireland's political leaders have achieved great things over the past 20 years (by) working together. That same spirit needs to be brought into these talks."

Stormont was thrown into crisis after a police assessment that members of the Provisional IRA were involved in the shooting of Kevin McGuigan, who is believed to have been killed in a revenge attack for the murder of Gerard "Jock" Davison three months earlier.

Negotiations at Stormont House aimed at resolving the difficulties were scheduled to start last week but stalled after unionists demanded UK Government action on paramilitaries.

On Friday, Mrs Villiers' proposal for an independent examination of the role, structure and purpose of paramilitaries was accepted by the DUP and UUP, who committed to turning up at the negotiating table.

Also on the agenda will be the full implementation of the Stormont House Agreement which aimed to tackle legacy issues relating to Northern Ireland's Troubles, the budget and controversial welfare reforms.

Belfast Telegraph


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