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Dublin City Council to consider restricting number of election posters used by candidates

200 members of the public complained to DCC about posters during the recent local elections.

Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

DUBLIN CITY COUNCIL is to consider restricting the number of election posters used by candidates in future elections amid concern at the growing proliferation of publicity material used during campaigns.

Councillors have proposed that limits should be placed on the number of locations within each electoral area where posters can be erected.

The city’s Lord Mayor, Paul McAuliffe said any scheme would need to be relatively simple and self-regulating to work but he admitted there was need for some proposal to tackle “the culture of posters eating up every pole”.

The first meeting of a special council sub-committee established to examine the issue of election posters held this week heard that there was broad cross-party support for having restrictions in place in time for the next local elections in 2024.

McAuliffe said it was unlikely that agreement would be reached in time for the next general election.

He said a possible scheme would be to limit each candidate to two posters at a fixed number of locations which would be determined by the council.

The Lord Mayor predicted such a measure would lead to “a huge reduction in the number of posters.”

Financial repercussions 

It is estimated that candidates in Dublin used on average between 300 and 400 posters each during the recent local election campaign.

Sinn Féin councillor, Chris Andrews, who proposed a motion passed by the full council earlier this month to cap the number of election posters and to require all posters to be biodegradable, stressed that there was no desire to introduce an outright ban on election material.

“But we need some form of regulation and some restrictions. The reasons are obvious,” he added.

Andrews claimed younger people failed to see the need for election posters in an era of social media and that the appetite for posters was decreasing among the general public.

Council officials advised councillors that a voluntary arrangement between candidates represents one option as there is no provision in legislation that would allow a local authority to impose financial sanctions on candidates who breach any rules.

Election posters are exempted under the Litter Pollution Act when used during an election campaign.

Simon Brock, an administrative officer in the council’s waste management services, told the meeting another option was to impose restrictions on the use of election posters on council property such as lampposts.

He pointed out such a precedent existed already as the council is allowed to remove posters if they pose a risk to health and safety.

Brock said council officials had taken down around 1,500 posters during this year’s elections because they were either too low or obstructing traffic signs.

“Large numbers of posters were erected in areas where they should not be,” said Brock.

Take down 

The meeting heard over 200 complaints had been received from members of the public about posters during the recent local elections.

Labour councillor, Dermot Lacey, it was “absolutely crazy” that the council would need a change in national legislation to impose sanctions on candidates who breached rules on elections posters. He claimed it highlighted the lack of powers devolved to local government.

Lacey also expressed doubt that a voluntary agreement between candidates would work as he had seen them “broken so many times.”

However, he said he would support any measures to restrict posters so long as they were fair and did not disadvantage either new or less well-off candidates.

Lacey suggested that the council should verify and number all posters that are used as well as a requirement that candidates pay a “take down” deposit to the council to ensure they were removed after an election.

People Before Profit councillor, Tina MacVeigh, said how other countries dealt with the issue should be examined such as in Germany where posters were confined to dedicated billboards.

Green Party councillor, Michael Pidgeon, warned problems could arise from residents’ associations putting pressure on the council to remove locations earmarked for allowing posters to be erected.

The council is to prepare a report on the options available with draft outlines of potential measures for the next meeting of the subcommittee scheduled in December.

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Seán McCárthaigh

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