Sunday 15 September 2019

Candidates fail to pay fines after slow poster take down

Sam Griffin

NINE out of every 10 poster fines issued by the country's largest local authority following May's local and European elections remain unpaid - but Dublin City Council won't name and shame the offending politicians.

The council issued 293 fines during and after the election campaigns earlier this summer for a variety of breaches of the strict rules governing poster-hanging, including erecting posters prematurely and not removing them quickly enough after polling day.

Elsewhere around the county just three fines were issued by Galway County Council following the elections. One has been paid while the other two remain outstanding.

In County Cork, only two fines were issued - to the same candidate for erecting posters too early. One fine has been paid while the other was subsequently cancelled.

Six fines were issued by Cork City Council, but five were successfully appealed and the remaining fine has been paid.

Waterford City and Council did not issue any poster fines.

Fines for breaching the rules are €150 per poster. However, figures released to the Irish Independent show just 31 fines have been paid in full in Dublin city so far, meaning nearly €40,000 is owed to the council in unpaid fines.

The council has issued 48 reminders for fines which remain unpaid, while two offences are being paid back in instalments and are only partially paid off.

The remaining 212 fines are being appealed by the offending politicians and are awaiting decision from Dublin City Council's Appeals Officer.

Less than a third of fines have been paid in South Dublin County Council, where 45 fines were issued.

Figures show only 13 have been paid in full, with 14 the subject of appeals. Some 23 fines are still outstanding.

Councils issue fines, under the Litter Pollution Act 1997, where posters are erected more than 30 days out from the date of election or remain up seven days after the election.

Despite the fact that the offending posters would have been on public display the councils have refused to identify who the fines have been issued to, citing data protection laws.

Former MEP Paul Murphy, who contested the European election, confirmed to the Irish Independent he received around 70 fines in total for erecting some posters too early and for not taking others down in time.

He said he has appealed a number of fines issued where posters were not taken down

"We've paid a number of them and we have a bunch under appeal.

"I can't say the exact number. We've probably around 50 under appeal and we've paid around 20.

"We've appealed because of the timing. We have no problem with posters that have to be down within a certain amount of time. But in our opinion it shouldn't be used as a revenue-raising exercise, which I think is what's being done.

"We had communicated that we were taking them down and were in the process of taking them down when we got the fines," he told the Irish Independent.

He said Dublin City Council had been "inflexible".

Irish Independent

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