A former councillor of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and her husband are facing charges of fraud and false accounting along with another woman.

Bernice Swift (54) who held the Erne West seat for 18 years, and her husband Kevin Gabriel Martin (46) from Glenlevan Road, Derrygonnelly along with Roisin Conlon (46) from Landbrock Road, Newtownbutler are each charged with 14 counts of fraud by abuse of position and six counts of false accounting.

The three are accused of abusing their positions by acting against the financial interests of the Victims and Survivors Service by claiming cheques were paid out to persons for travel expenses, and goods and services including residential stays in Armagh City Hotel, McPhillips Digital Media, Armagh Graphics, Fitzpatrick Fuels, Active Office Support, Office and Educational Supplies, and G&A Travel.

It is further alleged the defendants furnished information or made use of a certain record or document required for accounting purposes knowing it was or might be misleading, false or deceptive namely receipts for a stay at the Armagh City Hotel and three stays at the Westport Hotel. There are also two counts for the same charges involving quotations that were allegedly produced as opposed to receipts for stays at Hodson Bay Hotel and the Four Seasons Hotel.

The offences are alleged to have occurred on various dates between November 27, 2018 and September 5, 2019.

All three accused appeared before Dungannon Magistrates Court today (Monday), however, a defence solicitor advised the case is not yet ready to proceed.

He referred to the large amount of case papers which have only recently been received and are still being worked through.

District Judge Michael Ranaghan said it was "entirely sensible" to adjourn the proceedings to allow the defence time to study the details.

The case will be mentioned again on February 12 but it's unclear if the committal to Crown Court will proceed on that date.

Applications for Legal Aid were submitted in respect of all three accused which Judge Ranaghan advised he will consider and alert the defence if this will be granted.

News originally broke of the former independent councillor Ms Swift’s arrest in November 2020 when police confirmed she and her husband had been detained on suspicion of fraud.

They were later released on bail.

Now the Public Prosecution Service has decided to proceed with charges against both along with the third defendant.

When contacted at the time then-councillor Bernice Swift said: "I cannot comment on any alleged arrests. There remains an ongoing investigation."

Last year Ms Swift announced she would not be seeking re-election and was leaving the political scene to take on a new role.

In a departing speech to fellow councillors before the 2023 election, Ms Swift said: “My day has come. I have decided after 18 years of steadfast public service, where I have represented to the very best of my ability above and beyond, it is now time for me to do something new.

“To that end, I leave local government and politics, and will not seek re-election. I am going to embrace a new phase of life and it’s going to be a working life, 9-5, with the gratitude of being healthy, fit and well to do so, and I thank God for all my blessings into my life’s next chapter.”

She set out how she was first elected in 2005 for Sinn Féin, but said: “I resigned from the party over their policy position in providing political support and endorsing British policing in Ireland, which I was and remain opposed to. Thereafter I stood, liberated and shackle-free, as an Independent Republican, successfully proven by being elected on three different occasions by the very good people of Erne West.”

Ms Swift was replaced in the Ballot Paper by Paul McGoldrick but he failed to retain the seat which was instead taken by Sinn Féin.