A CANDIDATE IN the local elections said his children were upset when they saw his eyes blacked out on some of his posters while they were driving to a football match at the weekend.
Eugene Murphy is running for Fianna Fáil in Roscommon and is one of several candidates across the country who have had posters defaced since putting them up last week.
The defaced posters have black paint where Murphy’s eyes should be.
Murphy is refusing to take down or replace his defaced posters “for someone else to destroy”.
“I challenge those who deface posters to put their own name on the ballot paper,” said Murphy.
Separately, Alan Toibin, a first time candidate for Fine Gael said both his and Fianna Fáil candidate Sean Smith’s posters were “cut down with knives or scissors” and were the only candidates targeted in the area.
Toibin said the posters in Ashbourne, Meath were taken down in “weird” circumstances and has his own suspicions about who is responsible.
Fianna Fáil candidate Paddy McKee’s posters in Kilkenny were defaced with homophobic slurs. McKee said he was “disappointed” when he first saw the posters, but “felt sorry” for the views that were “born out of ignorance”.
McKee came out publicly on local radio before declaring as a candidate and sees it as “a personal attack” on his sexuality. The posters have been taken down and will be replaced with even more posters as he plans to redouble his efforts.
“The views aren’t shared by the majority of people in Kilkenny or in this country”, he said.
The words used to deface his posters raises concerns about the debate surrounding the upcoming marriage equality referendum, according to McKee, where “both sides will need to be very careful with the language used”.
Kevin O’Higgins, legal adviser to the Fine Gael Party said there is little legal action candidates can take over defaced posters “unless you have proof”.
“It is private property…probably not a criminal act, more of a civil thing,” he said.
All candidates spoken to called on the culprits to refrain from destroying posters and to instead contact them if they wished to air their grievances.
Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan also had what appears to be a rolled up cigarette stuck onto one of his election posters in Ballaghaderreen, Roscommon where he is running for a seat in the European elections.