CLOGHER man Neil Somerville has been announced as Tom Elliott's replacement in the Assembly.

The 42-year-old former councillor for Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough Council is a local businessman and the Chairman of Flavour of Tyrone.

He served as a member of the Royal Irish Regiment for 15 years.

Making the announcement today a spokesman for the Ulster Unionist Party said the co-optee went through a “rigorous process” with “strong competition”.

“This gave the Party Officers a very positive challenge which is a great sign that the Ulster Unionist Party is in revival mode.” Mr. Somerville said: “It will be a privilege and an honour to serve the people of Fermanagh & South Tyrone in the Northern Ireland Assembly. As part of the largest Unionist Party in the constituency, I look forward to working alongside Tom Elliott MP and our local councillors. We have a dedicated and committed team who will work diligently for all the people of the constituency.” A replacement was also selected for the South Antrim constituency.

Party Leader, Mike Nesbitt MLA said: “This is a moment of history for the Ulster Unionist Party, the first time since we secured devolution in 1998 that we have had to replace MLAs because they have gone on to become Members of Parliament. I can think of no better sign that the Party is in growth mode.

“We are losing two excellent MLAs in Danny Kinahan and Tom Elliott and on behalf of the Ulster Unionist Party, I thank them for all they have done for the Party grouping at Stormont and more importantly for their constituents, whom they will continue to serve in their new positions at Westminster.

“I rest assured they are being replaced by two equally excellent choices. Adrian and Neil will bring energy, passion and commitment to their new roles and I know they will work hard in association with Danny and Tom for the people of South Antrim and Fermanagh South Tyrone respectively.

“Adrian and Neil had to win through against stiff opposition, another sure sign that the Ulster Unionist Party is in good heart. The public recognise we have three key political attributes: momentum, belief and credibility.

“I look forward to working with Adrian and Neil to further enhance the voters’ confidence that what is currently on offer from the two parties at the heart of government is not as good as it gets, and that the Ulster Unionist Party has the people and the policies to offer better.”