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Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland
going postal

Should we limit the number of election posters candidates can have?

One Senator thinks 400 is plenty, but not everyone agrees.

IN A FEW months election posters will be displayed as far as the eye can see in cities, towns and villages across Ireland.

All candidates have to obey certain rules when it comes to erecting and removing posters.

For example, under law posters should only be erected for a certain specified time period before an election – either 30 days before the poll date or from the date the polling day order for the election has been made, whichever is the shorter period of time.

All posters are supposed to be removed within seven days of polling day.

This doesn’t always happen and is often a bone of contention after elections.

Fine Gael Senator Catherine Noone has called for a limit on the number of posters allowed per candidate: 400.

At present, there is no cap. A spokesperson for the Department of the Environment said the number of posters erected is “a matter for candidates” that will be impacted by financial restrictions.

Noone said €19,000 was the average cost per candidate for the 2011 General Election campaign, “much of which would have gone on posters”.

She will be contesting the next election for Fine Gael in the Dublin West constituency, alongside Health Minister Leo Varadkar.

Noone said a poster limit “would level the playing field and, ultimately, be in line with what people are always calling for”.

In the next election, with new parties having launched in the last two months and more independent candidates than ever, you are realistically looking at ten different party groupings that will be competing in a number of constituencies.

“This will bring huge competition, pressure to spend and – also – a lot of posters. With a conservative estimate of 1,000 posters per candidate, you could be looking at 10,000 posters per constituency, without including multiple candidates from the same party.

Not everyone agrees

Fianna Fáil is not on board with the idea, with a party spokesperson telling it’s “too late” for new rules to be brought in as many candidates have already printed their posters.

“Fianna Fáil will be complying fully with the current regulations on election posters,” the spokesperson said.

A representative for Sinn Féin noted that it supports cross-party agreement in some constituencies that certain areas, such as accident black spots and town centres, should be designated poster-free.

“The party is also in favour of seeing fewer election posters used during elections due to the high cost, which may bar entry to smaller campaigns, and the environmental impact involved.

However, due to the size of some constituencies relative to one another, an arbitrary limit may not be the answer to the problem. 400 posters in an area such as Dublin Central would have a far greater concentration than the same amount in the new Donegal electoral area for example.

The party spokesperson added that Sinn Féin hopes election posters will “gradually be replaced as the main platform for raising awareness” by social media and other outlets.

22/5/2014 Election Posters

Renua Ireland leader Lucinda Creigton told us: “Arguably it would be better for big parties if there was a cap because we have new candidates who never stood for election before who need to get their name and their face out there.

I do think there is an issue with littering across constituencies and I think that it is reasonable that some form of cap be put in place, but that would have to be negotiated, I believe, between all of the parties.

“I think if the government is going to bring forward proposals in that regard they will need to consult with all political parties, not just the ones that they tend to pick and choose from the opposition.”

Labour did not respond to a request for comment about the issue.

What do you think?

Should there be a cap of 400 posters per candidate?

Poll Results:

Yes (2844)
No, the cap should be lower (2217)
No, the cap should be higher (510)
I don't know (97)

Additional reporting Cliodhna Russell

Read: 19 election posters that prove Irish politicians are the best in the world*

Read: Aaron McKenna: A citizen’s guide to fighting the scourge of cable ties left on lamp posts

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