DUP representative pleads guilty on electoral fraud charges

The BBC report that former DUP mayor of Coleraine, Dessie Stewart, has pleaded guilty on 6 charges of electoral fraud relating to the last general and local elections in 2005 despite previously denying the charges. He is, currently, listed as an councillor on the Council website

He admitted four counts of pretending to be someone else in order to cast postal votes, and two of fraudulently stopping free exercise of a proxy vote.

Updated 10th Oct – He has now resigned from the council

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  • fair_deal

    He should resign at once (in fact he should have done so before pleading guilty). I hope the court throws the book at him.

  • seabhac siulach

    “He should resign at once (in fact he should have done so before pleading guilty). I hope the court throws the book at him.”

    Yes, wouldn’t want any of this (alleged) ‘criminality’ tainting the lily white ethical standards of the DUP…would we?

    Brings to mind the question of whether this was the result of an individual acting on his own or as just one small part of a centrally controlled operation…as in, should the DUP get the benefit of the doubt, something not afforded the Provos…hmm?

  • Crataegus

    I have a feeling that this sort of thing may be a more widespread problem than we think. It begs numerous questions not least; is ease of voting more important than being able to ensure that only those entitled to vote actually do? My general view is that it should be presumed that people should be expected to take the time and turn up and all the measures being tried by Blair’s government re postal voting are open to gross abuse.

    I am not impressed by circus stunts and most election campaigns. All I want are very basic leaflets from the candidates, note from the candidates not the parties, so I can judge if they have views I sort of agree with. I don’t want people standing outside the polling stations, and even less legions of shifty sorts inside the polling stations ‘monitoring’. I also don’t want acres of posters as though I was a slow learner. It is all totally unnecessary. I would much prefer much simpler and cheaper affairs so that candidates did not need supporters with deep pockets and if all had to do the same we would all be better off.

  • Its certainly changed days isnt it… The days of alleged mass personation by The Shinners are but a distant memory. Wonder how the mass ranks of fundamentalists within the DUP regard his actions? Is this a sin? Or is he forgiven, as he was acting for God and Ulster…?

  • tra g

    DUP – Vote Early & Vote Often

  • Greenflag

    Macswiney ,

    ‘Wonder how the mass ranks of fundamentalists within the DUP regard his actions? Is this a sin? Or is he forgiven, as he was acting for God and Ulster…?

    No wondering at all Mac in the fundie world . It’s simple . If this kind of action is committed by a catholic then it doesn’t matter as the latter are going to hell anyway . In the case of a DUP protestant well that depends on whether or not they get caught breaking the 11th commandement .

    You might want to call this hypocrisy but I could’nt possibly comment .

    Another day another gobshite –

  • Butterknife

    Another fair deal then. I bet the UUP will even feck this PR gift up.

  • the other unionist

    the charges relate not only to the local election but to the general election. Is there an issue about Gregory Campbell’s election and are we likely to get a statement from Gregory

  • George

    Personally, I think it’s God punishing Stewart for welcoming Bertie Ahern that time.

  • Jim

    You would have to think this was part of a wider campaign. Even in the context of a local election would the small number of votes gained be of any significance? Would they warrant the risk of being caught?

    However, a centrally controlled operation could gain a worthwhile shift in the results.

    Maybe it would balance out the Shinner’s doing the same on the other side?

  • An angelic republican

    How can SF be expected to share power with when this level of criminal behaviour and election manipulation is shown to be still part and parcel of unionist culture.

  • Mayoman

    Lost the right to gerrymander, so just resorted to electoral fraud! Will the DUP mindset ever be decomissioned?

  • the other unionist

    didn’t the labour party have the same problem with postal votes.

    least there is something for big ian to talk to tony about when he is in manchester

  • Butterknife

    Is he not obliged to resign anfrom the council anyway? The runner-up should be co-opted on – alliance.

  • harbour rat

    “Last night Coleraine Borough Council passed a vote of no confidence in Councillor Dessie Stewart (DUP). Councillor Stewart is a council representative on Coleraine Harbour Commissioners. He abstained on a crucial vote at a meeting of the harbour commissioners recently which has led to the signing of a 15 year lease to a scrap metal company to double their capacity for storing scrap at the harbour front.”

    Perhaps Dessie has a wee bit of the ‘bertie ahern’s’ about him.

  • electoral observer

    The ramifications are bizarre.

    Look at the figures on http://www.ark.ac.uk/elections/lgcoleraine.htm (pity Nicholas Whyte doesn’t do the full results sheet).

    Stewart would have won the DUP seat anyway, without any fraud. (He got 773 votes, quota 784.) But his running mate, Sandy Gilkinson gained a UUP seat that Alliance was also targeting, beating Barney Fitzpatrick of Alliance by about two dozen votes. So Gilkinson, who is innocent, was quite possibly elected through fraud, but cannot be removed.

    Does anyone think that someone who goes about stealing votes from old people in nursing homes only steals six? Perhaps (ahem) it was more than the two dozen that made the difference??

    SDLP and Alliance comments are right. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/5385132.stm
    Stewart should resign before it gets any more shameful and Coleraine Council should co-opt the runner-up and reverse the fraud.

  • Crataegus

    Electoral Observer

    Stewart should resign before it gets any more shameful and Coleraine Council should co-opt the runner-up and reverse the fraud.

    Would seem a fair way to go.

    Does anyone think that someone who goes about stealing votes from old people in nursing homes only steals six? Perhaps (ahem) it was more than the two dozen that made the difference??

    I think the problem is much more wide spread.

  • suil eile

    The election result should be null and void because six was only a sample charge and we do not know how many other cases there are.
    2nd 3rd etc preferences would obviously hav been affected as well to vote candidates in or out.

    Another election?

  • electoral observer

    Suil Eile

    You are right: the result SHOULD be null and void. But the law only allows a few weeks to challenge a result and this didn’t emerge quickly enough. There is something crazy that if the law-breaking isn’t discovered early enough only a criminal conviction can remove an offender – and in this case not the beneficiary.

    It’s all a bit like the ‘Concerned Citizens’ dirty tricks leaflets a while back: get away with it for a while and you get away with it for ever. Though at least in this case the Electoral office and the Police took action against Stewart. The law is still an ass.

  • electoral observer

    Other unionist

    1 Don’t think it would affect Gregory Campbell, as his majority was rather larger than the likely number of stolen votes. Remember Garrison polling station in 2001: votes cast after 10 p.m. were less than Michelle Gildernew’s majority, so the result stood.

    2 Yes. Labour had similar problems in Birmingham, where anyone could get a postal vote just for asking and a Labour candidate was caught red-handed forging hundreds. Six Labour candidates in two wards were disqualified. Liberals and an Asian group (perhaps Justice party) were victims in the two wards.

  • port stewart

    Does anyone know when he loses his seat?

  • londonderry_loyal

    Looking at the results of the elections, 6 votes wouldnt have made any difference to the outcome. If he is guilty of these charges would you really put yourself at that risk for 6 votes!! And I also believe that Gregory Campbell MP HAS nothing to do with it.

  • Dualta

    Someone with the means and know-how might like to take a peek at the voting activities of our senior citizens who live in residential accomodation in and around the Limavady area.

  • port stewart

    Dualta

    What do you mean about Limavady? Surely Dessie Stewart was only involved in Portrush area. Is there someone else too?

  • electoral observer

    Londonderry

    I agree that Gregory Campbell is not under suspicion.

    But I don’t get your main point. Do you mean that Stewart really didn’t do it if it was only six votes, or do you think that it might well have been more than six as Cartaegus, Suile Eile and I think?

  • The point of all this being missed methinks. ie The sheer hypocrisy of The DUP. As Newton Emersom says in his Mirror column (today) “Just what does it take to get throen out of The DUP these days? Recent years have seen the party pf God failing to damn memebers with Loyalist connections, criminal convictions and even sexual offence crininal records”. The failure of The DUP to expel its former mayor for blatant vote theft exposes it to a charge of total and complete hypocrisy. Any DUP supporters care to defend the indefensible then…???

  • Rory

    He admitted four counts of pretending to be someone else

    But surely he is someone else is he not? Isn’t everyone? He’s certainly not me so he must be someone else. It’s no wonder the poor fellow got confused. It sometimes happens to me when I haven’t had a blast of ganja for a few days. A toke of the Holy Smoke should set him to rights.

  • Nevin

    [i]He should resign at once (in fact he should have done so before pleading guilty). I hope the court throws the book at him.[/i]

    FD, did you express similar comments about a DUP councillor on the north coast who was found guilty of fraud a few months ago? Should he resign his seat? Should he resign from organisations that will be responsible for the distribution of lottery and other public funds?

  • bertie

    “”He should resign at once (in fact he should have done so before pleading guilty). I hope the court throws the book at him.”

    Yes, wouldn’t want any of this (alleged) ‘criminality’ tainting the lily white ethical standards of the DUP…would we? ”

    Maybe Fair deal consider that anyone in a similar situation should have resigned. It clearly doesn’t do to have standards.

  • Nevin

    Is there an obligation on political parties to pay rates on offices that they use for political purposes?

    How many MPs, MLAs and councillors use rates exempt buildings for political activities?

  • POL

    Interesting under hype by local media.B,Telegraph front page,bottom left hand corner, under a three quarter length photo, not of the electrol criminal but of a psni lesbian wedding.Now lets be honest folks of all political affiliations and none,had this been malpractice by Republicans it would be headlines anywhere and everywhere and top news on every television and radio station.Hearts and minds and every other current affairs programme would be off the blocks with a ready made docu, special guest panelists and their own specific gripes about how the Shinners undermined democracy.And they say we have a fair and impartial media, makes me wanna laugh.

  • Crataegus

    POL

    The other side of the equation is if Gerry burps the press cover it and I can think of quite a few politicians with more to say who would welcome that.

  • suil eile

    Just heard that the ‘boul Dessie has resigned his seat tonight in The Council meeting. Satement to follow by the Chief Executive. Now, will there be an inquiry by the DUP or will it be swept under the ever-rising carpet of indiscrepancies?

  • suil eile

    sorry bit late at night – that should read indiscretions!!