Electoral Fraud: DUP councillor in Court

DUP councillor and former Mayor of Coleraine, Dessie Stewart, has been before the courts charged with electoral fraud. He has been charged with ‘pretending to be another person in order to cast a postal vote’ for both the local and Westminster elections held last year on the same day, in which he was returned as a councillor and in which party colleague Gregory Campbell was returned as MP.

  • zack

    Stealing votes and he’s no paramilitary links ??

    Well to be fair to Dessie he was happy to attend a loyalist paramilitary show of strength in Portrush many years ago.

  • Jacko 92

    I await the outcome of this as gleefully as the next, but we should remember that legally he is still innocent of all charges.
    The site could get into severe trouble if we act as though he is guilty and he happens to be found innocent.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Jacko 92

    You’re absolutely correct, and contributors need to keep that in mind when posting – on this thread, or other threads currently open pertaining to on-going court cases.

  • If an elected offical was found guilty of what Mr Stewart is accussed of this what would be the repercussions, would the election need to be recast?

  • Jacko 92


    In a perfect world, yes.

    In ours, no chance.

    The argument (excuse?) would be around whether the numbers concerned and proven significantly affected the outcome.

  • Moyle Rover

    are there no rules on standards in public life by which a councillor can be barred from public office? I know the are in UK and ROI do they not exist over here?

  • pakman

    Moyle Rover

    last time I checked Coleraine (and indeed Moyle) were in the UK.

    Chris Donnelly

    ever heard of “sub judice”? Some caution is required here.

  • Rory

    I don’t really think anyone should get on their high horse about this charge. Personation waa regarded as one’s solemn duty in most of those who participated in the electoral process long before the presently dominant parties in NI politics got into the game. I well remember as a teenager while helping with the electoral campaign of a well known SDLP politician (still in business) being instructed by his agent to vote on behalf of at least six others on the register, advised how to do it and given transport to the polling stations to carry out that personation, my misgivings on the matter being dismised with a wink and a remark that, in my naivetee, I then thought original, “Vote early and vote often”.

    It is more usual for politicians to send out dupes (as I was at that time) to carry out this deception and if this fellow is convicted of the charge (and indeed until such time he must be presumed innocent)then it might be thought that the poor fellow might wish to choose a different career.

  • missfitz

    Darn Rory, that was my post. I can remember when working with FF in the late 70’s, I was in the Nurses Home in Vincents. My solemn job was to go through the register and figure out who was on leave, gone completely or unlikely to vote. You can imagine the rest.

    Vote early and vote often was no laughing matter, it was a matter of fact.

  • Rory

    The LibDems are seasoned practitioners of the art over this side of the pond, not that Labour or Tory are exactly shy either, especially in the densely populated inner city areas with a high immigrant population and hence a multiplicity of similar names on the register.

  • Stephen Copeland

    Last year Alistair Patterson from the UUP was charged with electoral fraud (still sub judice?). This year it is the DUP’s Dessie Stewart.

    There appears to be a strand within unionism that doesn’t really believe in democracy.

  • none

    Patterson was convicted of the most basic of crimes – i think it was taking £20 or something and replacing it with a different note.

  • Stephen Copeland


    Patterson was charged with electoral fraud, and a large number of small financial offences. What he has (so far?) been convicted of, I do not know. Maybe not all of the cases have gone to court?

  • Rory

    “A strand within Unionism that doesn’t really believe in democracy”? Quite possibly, Stephen, but these cases are not really strong evidence for that, since personation is rife within all the parties that take part in the democratic process, in Ireland north and south, in England, Scotland, Wales, the USA and in damned near any democratic election we get to hear about anywhere, ever. Rather an unofficial, but hallowed part of the process it seems to me.

    “If the other fella’s gonna do it (and he is), then we had better do it too”, is the attitude ( possibly, if not probably, justified) that underpins the practice.

    Every now and then someone gets caught out. But the important thing that every personator is prepped to remember – if you’re nabbed after the fact – the vote you have just made still counts – secret of the ballot box and all that.

    Honest democrats on these occasions just sigh and think, “Better one of theirs than one of ours”. The studied hypocrisy of shock, horror is only for spin and does not display any of the relief that none of “our” team got caught.