There has been 66 recorded attacks of dogs worrying livestock across Fermanagh and Omagh in the last five years, revealed Ulster Unionist Party candidate John McClaughry, adding that the actual figures are likely to be even higher as many incidents go unreported.

Mr. McClaughry, who himself has suffered two separate dog attacks on his own sheep, said: “Anyone with sheep will know that dog attacks can occur all year round, but it’s at this time when ewes have lambs at foot, when farmers are even on more alert for such incidents.”

He added: “Whilst they mightn’t look or act like it, pet dogs can cause serious injuries to sheep. For sheep that aren’t killed outright, the extent of the injuries often require them to be put down. Even sheep that aren’t physically touched at all can still miscarry lambs as a result of all the stress and commotion of an attack, so even a short-lived attack can have major financial implications.”

Democratic Unionist Party candidate Deborah Armstrong has expressed her concern at the level of recent thefts in the area.

She said: “Just last Friday another incident occurred in broad daylight when a handbag was stolen from a car parked at Tubrid graveyard near Kesh. I know the woman in question and it has caused a lot of distress.” She added: “The level of theft is concerning. We must be vigilant particularly as we move into the summer months, when cars are parked at local beauty spots. It is a sad reality that thieves target our well-known beauty spots which are packed with tourists and indeed locals.”

Ulster Unionist Party candidate Diana Armstrong commented on the importance of retaining the Stroke Unit at the South West Acute Hospital. She said: “There is an absolute need to provide modern, safe and sustainable stroke services. The high performance of the Stroke Unit at SWAH must be recognised, therefore this unit should be developed as a Centre of Excellence and HyperAcute Stroke Unit.”

Mr. McClaughry, Ms. Armstrong and Mrs. Armstrong are standing for Erne North in their respective parties. Also running as candidates for the ward of Erne North are David Mahon (Democratic Unionist Party), John Coyle (Social Democratic and Labour Party), Siobhan Currie (Sinn Féin), John Feely (Sinn Féin), Alex Elliott (Traditional Unionist Voice), Lewis Jennings (Democrats and Veterans Party) and Dianne Little (Alliance.)