By Thomas Maher
FORMER Fermanagh South Tyrone MLA, Rosemary Barton, is among those being considered to be co-opted in to the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council seat that will be left vacant by the retiring Bert Wilson.
UUP veteran Mr Wilson announced last week that he will stepping down from his Mid Tyrone seat after 22 years of service.
Retired teacher Mrs Barton was a UUP MLA for Fermanagh South Tyrone between 2016 and 2022, having also previously served on Fermanagh District Council.
She lost her seat in May’s Assembly election to friend and Ulster Unionist Party running mate Tom Elliott.
When contacted by the Herald this week, Mrs Barton said that it was “up to the party” on who would be selected for the role but declined to say whether she was interested in taking the seat.
Speaking on Tuesday, Mr Wilson said he would be “quite happy” if the Fermanagh woman was the person chosen by the party to replace him.
“Rosemary is a very smart lady. She has a lot of great contacts and is very bright. If the party chose her to take my old seat I would be quite happy with that,” he said.
During his time serving the Mid Tyrone area, the 82-year-old farmer served as chairman of the legacy Omagh District Council and, more recently, as vice-chairman of the new Fermanagh and Omagh District Council.
Mr Wilson said he was proud to be the only Unionist to top the poll in the Mid Tyrone electoral area.
“I have to thank the people of that area for putting their faith in me over the years, and I always did my best for them, regardless of class or creed,” he said.
Meanwhile, the UUP has thanked Mr Wilson for his long service to the community over many years.
A party spokesperson said, “He was a tireless and diligent community worker representing constituents across a wide spectrum of issues, including planning and agriculture.
“An internal party process will select a replacement and we will not be making any comment until that process is complete.”
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