Richie McPhillips, SDLP.

Q: "How will you address problems with the education system in Fermanagh-south Tyrone?"

A: “Our rural communities are being decimated by O’Dowd’s school closures from Clintyclay at Clonmore on the outer area of our constituency to St Eugenes, Rosslea, Lisnaskea High School, the list is growing. This is tearing the heart out of communities. There must be more consultation with the communities and proper evaluation of varying needs across the constituency and an agreed approach.

We want to see an end to the 11 plus debacle that has has seen our children take five tests instead of one for over a decade. We must also equip our children with the skills they need to succeed in a changed global economy. This means a focus on STEAM subjects and an introduction to coding at an earlier age. Education is a corner stone of society and the SDLP wish to see a high quality education system that addresses the needs of all children and young people of the future.”

Q: "How will you fix our health service given the fact you had no solution to the problem when asked this question last week?"

A: “First and foremost it is crucial to discover what is going on at South West Acute Hospital with its financial situation. That way we can properly develop a solution which fits this problem.

We need to provide more services locally and have the facilities to do it. It is wrong that seriously ill patients are forced to travel for hours from their homes to treatment centres.

The SDLP is committed to creating a modern financially sustainable health and social care system that delivers high quality and safe services that are free at the point of delivery. There is going to be a greater need for GPs with so many nearing retirement. We will increase the number of GP training places.

We need to see the redistribution of resources from acute services to community care and the full implementation of Transforming Your Care. Particularly in Fermanagh-south Tyrone there needs to be a complete review of home care services. Carers are run off their feet and they are unable to provide the time that should be given to their patients this has to be reviewed and as a matter of urgency.

Much could also be achieved by offering nurses and other front-line healthcare staff the one per cent pay rise they were denied last year. As it stands they are overworked underpaid and demoralised. This is a small way we could begin to address this.

In terms of mental health the SDLP would call for a review of mental health services provision and to examine the extent that the services are fragmented especially in areas like Fermanagh. We are committed to the establishment of a ring fenced prevention and early intervention budget for those living with autism and we would be pressing for a reduction of the current 20 month waiting list for autism diagnosis.”

Q: "How will you help families across Fermanagh-south Tyrone who are experiencing poverty?"

A: “Families across the constituency are having to endure tough times and our people face unmitigated Tory welfare cuts after welfare powers were surrendered to Westminster last year by DUP and Sinn Fein.

Our pledges will have a significant impact in tackling poverty and deprivation in this constituency. Our formula for fairness will ensure that the historic neglect in Fermanagh-south Tyrone will be remedied and that resources for job creation and infrastructure go where they are most needed and are not disproportionately awarded to parts of Belfast and its suburbs. We will offer opportunity to young people by increasing student places and increasing funding to apprenticeships and skills training. We will ensure that debt does not stand in the way of our young people’s ambition by reducing student fees by £500 with an aim to abolish them altogether.

“We have always demonstrated a strong commitment to making work pay for everyone and because of this we have called for the provision of a True Living Wage which would reflect the rising costs of living. the new upper age band of the minimum wage that the Conservative government are calling ‘National Living Wage’ cannot be allowed to act as a substitute for this.”

Q: "How will you make the SDLP relevant to those who find your party irrelevant in this area?"

“The only people who would argue that change is irrelevant are those who are happy with the status quo. I am not. Much has to change and that is what the SDLP is offering in this election.

We are standing out from the other parties by running on strong policies and not relying on scaremongering about a job where both the First and deputy First Minister hold the same amount of power. We are offering more free childcare, reduced student fees, more investment for the west, secure funding for the A5 and A6 and mandatory sentences for those who attack the elderly.

We can also stand over our record as the only consistently pro-life and pro-europe nationalist party running in Fermanagh-south Tyrone and the party that blocked fracking in Fermanagh and across the north.”

Q: "How will you support the tourism sector in Fermanagh-south Tyrone?"

A: “I believe that ours is an area of outstanding natural beauty, world class amenities and should be one of NI Tourism's signature projects despite being shamefully overlooked last year. We would see a renewed emphasis on our lakelands as part of a sub-regional tourism strategy that would reopen the Ulster Canal and increase greenway development. We support reduction of Tourism VAT to encourage our hospitality sector where we have proven ourselves among the best in culinary excellence.”