DUP man guilty of vote fraud
A former DUP mayor of Coleraine, has admitted six charges of electoral
The charges relate to the last general and local government elections
in May 2005, when Mr Stewart was elected to the post.
The councillor initially denied the charges, but on Wednesday, he
admitted to four counts of pretending to be someone else in order to
cast postal votes, as well as two charges of fraudulently stopping free
exercise of a proxy vote.
He will now face sentencing on October 24.
Ian Paisley's DUP routinely accuses Sinn Fein of electoral fraud,
but always without evidence. The party is thought to be extremely
embarrassed by this week's admission.
Both Sinn Fein and the SDLP have called for Mr Stewart to resign
from the council.
Sinn Fein councillor Billy Leonard said Mr Stewart had compromised his
position as an elected representative.
"Dessie Stewart has admitted that he pretended to be someone else
to get some more votes," he said.
"How can he continue to operate as an elected representative or go
again at a future election and ask people for a vote?
"I hope that his reflection on his position is lot more thoughtful
his actions last May.
"It would be better if he went voluntarily rather than be forced
SDLP assembly member John Dallat said Mr Stewart should resign
"This is a most serious case of electoral fraud," he said.
" We may never know the extent of it and the fact that Councillor
Stewart only changed his plea at the last minute only adds to the
seriousness of it.
"This must come as a huge embarrassment to the DUP and in particular
the Westminster MP for East Derry Gregory Campbell."