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Fianna Fáil is 'seriously considering' banning under-18s from buying spray paint

Barry Cowen raised the issue in the Dáil recently after members of the public suggested the idea.

Shutterstock-112693975 Source: Graffiti/Shutterstock

FIANNA FÁIL IS considering banning the sale of spray paint to people under the age of 18 in order to deter graffiti.

Barry Cowen told TheJournal.ie that his party was mulling over the issue, adding that he personally supported the idea.

“It’s something we’d seriously consider.”

Cowen, who is Fianna Fáil’s Environment Spokesperson, noted that any push for a change in legislation would not happen until after the summer recess.

He said that the suggestion was first made by members of the public, mainly from Dublin, who had approached the party after their own premises and locality were affected by graffiti.

Some people have been on to the party to raise the issue with the minister.

Cowen did just that last week, when he asked the then Environment Minister Phil Hogan about the possibility of banning under-18s from buying spray paint.

Cost

Speaking in the Dáil, the Laois-Offaly TD said that such a move could “reduce the amount of graffiti and cost to local authorities of removing it”.

Dublin City Council spends about €300,000 a year on removing graffiti.

Hogan didn’t rule out the idea entirely but noted that the negative implications of such a ban might outweigh the positive.

The introduction of age-related restrictions on the purchase of spray paint to limit the availability of the product or discourage its inappropriate purchase could have an unfair impact on consumers who use the product for legally permitted purposes.

“Moreover, the administrative and regulatory burden arising from the introduction of such restrictions – for the public sector, industry and consumers – might well be disproportionate to any potential gains,” he said.

dublin graffiti Source: Graffiti in Dublin/Shutterstock

Local authority power

Hogan stated that local authorities have “significant powers” under the Litter Pollution Acts from 1997-2009 to “deal with the defacement of structures by writing or other marks”.

“In addition to the legislative provisions for penalties for committing graffiti-related offences under section 19 of the 1997 Act and in order to provide support to local communities, my Department has provided funding for the Anti-Litter and Anti-Graffiti Awareness Grant Scheme, whereby local authorities are invited to submit proposed eligible projects to combat graffiti in their functional areas.

It is open to local community groups to approach the local authority for assistance with funding for anti-graffiti projects.

He added that the Justice Department also “has a role in the control of graffiti” under the Criminal Damage Act 1991, which covers the offences of damaging or defacing property.

Cowen told us that Fianna Fáil would consider pushing ahead with the issue, regardless of the Government’s stance.

“I know some people would say we’ve moved on to graffiti art, but the incidents I’ve seen are far from that,” he remarked.

Read: Dublin City Council tackles anti-U2 graffiti

Read: Racist graffiti painted opposite Immigrant Council offices

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Órla Ryan

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