Former Fermanagh South Tyrone MLA Rosemary Barton has returned to politics as she succeeds Councillor Bert Wilson to represent the Mid Tyrone DEA, it has been confirmed.

There had been some speculation that Mrs. Barton would succeed Mr. Wilson upon his retirement.

The West Tyrone Ulster Unionist Association Chairman, Councillor Allan Rainey, confirmed that Mrs. Barton will be succeeding Councillor Wilson, who is standing down from Fermanagh and Omagh District Council.

Paying tribute to Councillor Wilson, he said: “Bert has been a dedicated, tireless, hard-working representative for the people of the District Electoral Area of Mid Tyrone for nearly 22 years.

“Furthermore, he was a great advocate for those working in the agricultural sector, championing their associated concerns from agricultural prices to climate change.

“His advocating for greater expenditure for the improvement of rural roads has been well documented. Bert certainly was a highly-respected councillor by all who he worked with over the years.”

Commenting on her return to the Council, Mrs. Barton said: “Firstly I would like to pay tribute to Councillor Wilson, who was held in the highest esteem by the community of Mid Tyrone whom he served for nearly 22 years. I do realise I will have ginormous shoes to fill.

“Bert was a ceaseless worker for his constituents, returning home with a list of issues he had been contacted about while at the Mart or at night time following various social meetings he was attending.

“He certainly was no 9 to 5, five-day-a-week councillor. Instead, I know he could be on the phone at 7am or 10pm at least 6 days a week.

“I do wish Bert a well-deserved long and happy retirement, and hopefully he will have a little more time to enjoy his love of reading agricultural publications, along with his farming pursuits.”

She continued: “I look forward to my return to the Council.”