A DUP minister tipped as a potential successor to Arlene Foster has thanked the party leader for her “service, sacrifice and commitment”.
Edwin Poots was among a number of DUP members to react to Mrs Foster’s announcement that she is to resign as leader of the party and as Northern Ireland First Minister.
Mrs Foster said she will stand down as party leader on May 28 and as First Minister at the end of June.
Mr Poots, the Environment Minister, tweeted: “I wish to thank Arlene for her service, sacrifice and commitment to the DUP and country.
“We all wish her well for whatever the future may hold for her and her family.”
DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds said it was a “privilege” to work with Mrs Foster.
The MP tweeted: “Arlene has dedicated her life to defending the Union and moving Northern Ireland forward.
“She has demonstrated great courage and is an example for women in public life.
“Thank you Arlene. It’s been a privilege to work alongside you.”
Another frontrunner to succeed the party leader, East Belfast MP Gavin Robinson, also paid tribute to Mrs Foster.
“There will be more to say about lies ahead in the days to come, but for now, I want to thank Arlene personally for her dedicated service to Northern Ireland,” he posted online.
“She has been a constant source of encouragement to me and my colleagues throughout the province.
“Facing difficulties with courage and determination; and sacrificing so much over all of us over her 18 years in elected politics, I pay tribute to her, her leadership and her commitment to our Country.”
Meanwhile, DUP Minister for Education Peter Weir said he was sorry to see her step down from her role as First Minister and as party leader.
“I have known her and been a friend and colleague for over 30 years,” he said in a statement.
“She has devoted her adult life to Northern Ireland and to Unionism.
“I wish her and her family all the best in the next stage of her life.”