FORMER Ulster Herald journalist Deborah Erskine has been selected to replace Arlene Foster as an MLA for Fermanagh and South Tyrone.
The Fermanagh and Omagh District councillor has been a close ally of the former First Minister, and has been considered the front-runner to be co-opted since Mrs Foster was removed as DUP leader.
Ms Erskine is a former journalist with the ‘Herald and Tyrone Herald newspapers, and moved onto become a DUP press officer before being elected in Erne North in 2019.
Following the announcement, she said, “I am honoured to have been selected to serve the people of Fermanagh and South Tyrone in the NI Assembly. Having served on Fermanagh and Omagh District Council since 2019, this is a tremendous opportunity to be a voice for everyone in Fermanagh & South Tyrone in the Northern Ireland Assembly.
“I am following in the footsteps of someone who has been an exemplar public representative. Her dedication to Fermanagh & South Tyrone has been unstinting. I thank Arlene for her unwavering encouragement to me and I know that will continue. I will build upon the good work she has carried out over so many years.
Ms Erskine said she would be prioritising “better access to hospital and GP treatment” and “speaking out about the challenges in schools”.
The newly minted MLA was accompanied on her first constituency outing by Mrs Foster and the current DUP leader, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, at the Buddy Bear Centre in Dungannon.
Mrs Foster said, “I have worked with Deborah over many years and she will be an excellent representative in the NI Assembly. I will continue to support Deborah and the Party in Fermanagh & South Tyrone in any way possible in the future.”
Mr Donaldson added, “I am delighted that Deborah will be joining our Assembly team. As a local Councillor Deborah has already made a huge contribution to the community and she will bring a wealth of enthusiasm and experience to the Party at Stormont during a crucial time for Northern Ireland.
Since leaving the political fray, Mrs Foster has made her way into the media world as a contributor on the recently-launched GB News.
By James Kelly