Monday 21 October 2019

New election candidates 'feeling intimidated' due to rows over campaign posters, politician claims

Election posters in Ranelagh.
Pic Steve Humphreys
24th April 2019
Election posters in Ranelagh. Pic Steve Humphreys 24th April 2019

Conor Feehan and Rachel Farrell

First time candidates in next month's local elections are "feeling intimidated" as more towns and committees call for their areas to be 'poster free'.

A number of towns throughout the country have called for their areas to be poster-free for next month's local and European elections. The election campaign coincides with adjudicators from the Tidy Towns competition inspecting towns and villages across the country.

Election posters in Ranelagh.
Pic Steve Humphreys
24th April 2019
Election posters in Ranelagh. Pic Steve Humphreys 24th April 2019

However, one North Dublin councillor says new candidates have little hope of getting elected if they can't erect posters in their area.

"First time candidates are feeling intimated. We're especially trying to encourage women in politics to increase that, and new candidates haven't a hope if they can't put up posters in their own town," Cllr Tom O'Leary told Independent.ie.

"The blood bank put up posters prior to visiting a town seeking blood donors. Are they banned too? No. If so, why not. it's only local politicians trying to serve their own communities."

His comments come as one Tidy Towns committee rowed back an apparent threat to tear down and destroy election posters.

Election posters in Rathgar.
Pic Steve Humphreys
24th April 2019
Election posters in Rathgar. Pic Steve Humphreys 24th April 2019
Election posters in Rathgar. Pic Steve Humphreys 24th April 2019

A message from Dalkey Tidy Towns committee had been issued telling candidates their posters would be removed.

In an email to some candidates, which outlined the poster-free zone in Dalkey, a message said “No posters within this red line will be tolerated. No posters in Dalkey. Any put up will be removed and destroyed ASAP”.

But in a second message late last night the committee apologised for wording which it said could be “misunderstood”.

“While we kindly request that candidates do not erect the CorriBoard plastic posters which have a life of over 200 years in the designated area, if any are erected against our request, after a reasonable time, we will remove them AFTER the elections if they are abandoned by candidates,” the message said.

Election posters in Ranelagh.
Pic Steve Humphreys
24th April 2019
Election posters in Ranelagh. Pic Steve Humphreys 24th April 2019

“We are now entering that time of the year when adjudicators from the National Tidy Towns competition will inspect towns throughout Ireland and we are doing our best to be a litter-free Heritage Town at all times,” it added.

Separately, a PosterFree campaign is claiming more than 100 towns around the country are not going to have election posters for the local elections.

But it's not clear whether this will be the reality.

The group's Twitter page already had a message today from another Tidy Towns group expressing disappointment that posters are being erected.

Donnybrook Tidy Towns said the “repeated requests to keep Donnybrook free of the toxic plastic that is the election poster has fallen on deaf ears”.

Other posts complained that election posters were being put up before the allowed time of midnight last night.

Clondalkin Tidy Towns asked in a tweet that all individuals, groups and parties respect its voluntary ban on posters in Clondalkin village, saying it has had great success in previous years.

In 2014, GreenNews.ie reported that just over 2,000 candidates ran for 750 seats in the local elections, putting up more than 600,000 posters.

Those posters reportedly produced 360 tonnes of carbon dioxide, the same amount that would be produced by an average car being driven non stop for 592 days.

Under the the Litter Pollution Act of 1997, endangering public safety by inappropriately positioning promotional posters is an offence.

Green Party candidate for the Pembroke constituency in South Dublin, Hazel Chu, today defended her use of posters despite their eco concerns.

“We are in favour of not using posters or having designated areas for posters, but as a smaller party we need to use posters if other bigger parties are,” she said.

“We have made proposals to stop the use of posters but it needs to be adopted by everyone.

“By 1am this morning (Wednesday) Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael had posters up in my area, and it’s hard to fight that as a smaller party,” she added.

Alan Edge, an Independent running in Firhouse / Bohernabreena in south west Dublin, has written to fellow candidates in the district asking them to go poster-free for the local elections.

“In the month in which school children across the globe took to the streets to demand action to stop the environmental catastrophe for which we’re headed, I believe that it is the solemn duty of public representatives and candidates to act now,” he said in a recent online circular.

“I support a complete ban on election posters. I want to go poster free. I can only ask that if sitting councillors support me and agree to do so as well.

“As a first time candidate a posterless campaign puts me at a disadvantage but I deem it a risk worth taking in order to protect our environment,” he added.

He asked that no candidate erect more than 100 posters in their local election area, and that none be erected within 100 metres of a river or stream.

He also asked that candidates commit to removing all cable ties after the election.

Lesser-known candidates and those entering the election fray for the first time have argued that posters are a vital way of getting their names and faces out into the public consciousness, but some surveys suggest that around 70pc of the electorate would prefer if election posters were not used.

Arguments have been made that the use of plastics in modern posters, as well as single-use plastic cable ties to attach them to poles are harmful to the environment.

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