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By-election looms over Iris Robinson’s seat

Castlereagh Council could face a costly by-election to replace the disgraced Iris Robinson.

Independent councillor Charlie Tosh — who split from the DUP over his opposition to power-sharing at Stormont — said he would fight any attempt to co-opt someone to fill her vacant Castlereagh east council seat.

Mr Tosh spoke out as pressure mounted on the DUP-dominated council to increase its accountability in the wake of explosive revelations about the former first lady’s financial affairs.

It is thought a by-election could cost the council around £22,000, but without unanimous support for a new DUP candidate to be co-opted it will go ahead.

He said: “They had a dictatorship in the council and in the event of the DUP wanting to co-opt someone into Iris’ position I will emphatically object unless certain conditions are met.”

Mr Tosh was elected as a DUP councillor in 2005, but left to join the Traditional Unionist Voice when the DUP signed up to power-sharing at Stormont. He has since gone independent.

He added: “When I was in the DUP I personally found it somewhat galling how unfair they were to other councillors. I certainly was of the opinion that what the DUP said went, and I feel that they were very unfair to other councillors.

“There are people who have served for 26 years on the council and were never once appointed as mayor, yet the DUP could co-opt someone on to the council and within a year they are appointed mayor.”

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