Former Dungannon Council Chief Executive Alan Burke in fight for vacant MLA role in South Tyrone

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Four candidates will seek the vacant UUP Fermanagh and South Tyrone position, including former Dungannon District Chief Executive Alan Burke.

As well as Mr Burke, who lives in Killyman, two relative newcomers from Tyrone are in the running alongside former Fermanagh District Councillor Basil Johnston.

The four are seeking to be co-opted to the seat vacated by Clogher Valley man Neil Somerville, who confirmed his decision to step down less than seven months after replacing MP Tom Elliott.

Ivor Paisley from Castlecaulfield and Alistair Patterson from Castlederg complete the list.

One of the four will be named as the new Ulster Unionist Assembly member at a constituency meeting on Friday.

Mr Burke spent 40 years working at Dungannon Council, one of the few staff members who oversaw practically the entire borough council’s history since its creation in 1973.

Alan began as a trainee public health inspector in the grandly named Sanitary Department at the former workhouse in South Tyrone Hospital, and rose through the ranks to lead the council in its final year of existence.

In an interview with the Tyrone Times, Alan recounted some of the major achievements of the council, including the creation of a permanent halting site for travellers in Coalisland, the introduction of the first power-sharing chamber in the North, as well as securing Hadden’s Quarry, which proved to be such a financial boon. Party insiders have either tipped Mr Burke or Mr Paisley to take the nomination given their strong South Tyrone connections which would ensure a better geographical balance on the election ticket in May.