Saturday 26 May 2018

'This is unacceptable' - Labour leader condemns theft of referendum posters calling for repeal

Placards for the upcoming Abortion Referendum to repeal the 8th amendment in Dublin's City Centre. Photo Gareth Chaney Collins
Placards for the upcoming Abortion Referendum to repeal the 8th amendment in Dublin's City Centre. Photo Gareth Chaney Collins

Shona Murray

Labour leader Brendan Howlin says the “theft” of referendum posters calling for a repeal of the Eighth Amendment has been “happening all over the country”.

Mr Howlin said in his own constituency, as well as that of Limerick TD Jan O’Sullivan, there have been several incidences where Labour posters have been removed form lamp posts without permission.

Ms O’Sullivan was sent a video showing two men taking down posters in Limerick “in broad daylight”.

She said she also has a couple of reports on the registration of cars involved in such activity.

Brendan Howlin
Brendan Howlin

Mr Howlin said complaints of similar activity were relayed to him at an executive meeting at the weekend from campaigners everywhere in the state.

“We had an executive meeting on Saturday and there were reports from across the country that posters were being taken down,” Mr Howlin said.

Ms O’Sullivan said she handed over her evidence to gardaí on Saturday evening, on the basis that removing the posters constituted the crime of “theft”, although the law is unclear on the matter.

“There is no specific law other than they are the property of the Labour Party; theft being the offence committed,” said Brendan Howlin.

However, he said such behaviour was beyond the bounds of ‘acceptable’ behaviour in a political contest.

“In terms of any fair running of a vote of the people it has always been understood across the party political system that people are entitled to put up their posters without any hindrance.

“The notion that there would be any removal of them is unacceptable”, he said.

He also pointed out that there are several posters emanating from the No side, but that are so far unattributed to any particular campaign, which is illegal under Irish electoral law.

“Another factor is the proliferation of posters certainly in my own constituency without any proliferation so we don’t know who is responsible for them.

“That is clearly illegal under the electoral act but also says they must be identified who’s putting them up”, said Mr Howlin.

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