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Candidates urged not to hang election campaign posters

Candidates in the upcoming local elections have been asked not to put up posters in Roscommon town during their campaigns.

The town has been nominated to take part in the Ireland’s Best Kept Town competition.

Election campaigning will be in full swing when judging takes place in May, ahead of the local elections in June.

Outgoing Roscommon County Councillor Kathleen Shanagher, Chairperson of Roscommon Tidy Towns Association, has called for a poster ban.

Ms Shanagher has never used posters and was elected as an Independent in 2014 and 2019.

She said the posters are “not at all” in keeping with a tidy town.

Councillor Kathleen Shanagher

“Over the years we’ve had the adjudicators come into town and they’ll note where there’s cable ties on poles and they would have been a result of posters that have been up previously,” Ms Shanagher said.

“And because you need ladders to get and take them down we just decided we’re going to ask for no posters so we won’t have that issue with cable ties.

“And also we won’t have posters around our town which we think will just take from the town, which is looking very well at the moment, and we want to win that title, so we don’t need the posters in the town.”

But another outgoing councillor, Fine Gael’s Brendan Weld, who sits on Kildare County Council, firmly believes election posters are very important for candidates.

“It puts the name recognition out there, particularly in rural areas,” Cllr Weld said.

“One year, one particular election, we made a conscientious decision not to put our posters up until two weeks before the election.

“And then in rural areas, people were asking me, ‘Are you not running in the election? Everybody else’s posters are up, and we don’t see any posters of you?’

“So I think in fairness to new candidates as well, it gives them a level playing pitch.

“We’re in a democracy. And I think it’s only fair that everybody should have an equal chance.”

Cllr Weld said he agrees with respect for the environment and added “there are laws governing them and once they’re adhered to and they’re taken down after the election, I think they’re important”.

Councillor Brendan Weld

There are strict limitations on when election posters can be put up.

The Litter Pollution Act 1997, as amended by the Electoral (Amendment)(No.2) Act 2009, allows people to display election posters for a certain period.

They can be displayed from the date the Minister appoints the polling day by order, or 30 days before polling day, whichever is shorter.

They must be taken down within seven days after the polling day.

Breaches of each of these provisions may result in a €150 on-the-spot fine.

There is however a public meeting exception, where posters advertising a public meeting may be erected at anytime.

They can be posted up to 30 days before the meeting and must be removed within seven days of the date of the meeting specified on the poster.

In recent year some politicians and aspiring politicians have been using this exception to put up posters with their photo on it to advertise a public meeting on a topical local issue, ahead of the period when election posters can be erected.

According to Cllr Weld, many people are not aware of elections until they see the posters going up.

“It’s only then that they start to take an interest in it and particularly in local elections where you have local candidates,” he said.

“I think it’s very important that we have posters in rural areas.”

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