TRIBUTES have been paid to a former councillor who within four years was a member of three unionist parties, and who took “great delight in putting one over on establishment officialdom”.
Charlie Tosh, who died on New Year’s Eve, was a member of the DUP for 21 years and made substantial financial donations to the party.
He first stood in an election to Castlereagh council in 1993 but was not elected until 2005 when he was extraordinarily elected as one of five DUP councillors elected in the Castlereagh East ward. Iris Robinson topped the poll in that council ward but after Mr Tosh quit the DUP in 2007 over its decision to share power with Sinn Fein, he and former colleagues frequently clashed in the south-east Belfast council chamber.
Mr Tosh became one of the first councillors to join Jim Allister’s fledgling Traditional Unionist Voice, but left in 2009 with a broadside at Mr Allister, accusing him of emulating former DUP leader Ian Paisley by “running the TUV like a dictatorship”, something Mr Allister rejected.
Sitting as an independent, Mr Tosh forced – with the support of the Alliance Party – a council by-election after Mrs Robinson resigned amid scandal in January 2010.
At the end of that year, the retired businessman joined the UUP. He did not contest last year’s election.
Just months before he died, Mr Tosh spoke on BBC Radio Ulster’s Talkback programme about his unhappiness at where new leader Mike Nesbitt was taking the party.
Mr Tosh, who was an occasional correspondent to the letters page of the News Letter, is believed to have been in his seventies. The former record company boss and fireplace businessman, who had been suffering from cancer, had been in hospital for several weeks prior to his death.
His only brother, Stewart, said that his late sibling – an accomplished musician – had been “tremendously talented”.
Mr Tosh said: “Charlie did everything wholeheartedly, bursting with enthusiasm at full throttle, wheeling and dealing, exuding wit and humour.
“Kind, benevolent and generous, he had a deep well of compassion and was always on the side of the underdog, fully immersed in solving whatever their problem was and especially taking great delight in putting one over on establishment officialdom.”
Mr Tosh recalled: “When a parking ban was imposed many years ago in Corporation Street, which ignored the impact on his fireplace business, he promptly invited the media to come along to a special event at the height of rush hour where they were treated to a scene reminiscent of the finest Laurel and Hardy films, with Charlie and one of his staff struggling across four or five lanes at rush hour, carrying a fireplace to a waiting lorry on the opposite side of the street in the midst of traffic chaos. The parking restrictions were removed within days.”
Mr Tosh is survived by his wife, Yvonne, daughter Hilary and granddaughter Charlie.