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Sadly, Mrs Brown never made it the Dáil.
Sadly, Mrs Brown never made it the Dáil.
Image: Photocall Ireland

Will Dublin ban election posters? Maybe. Probably not. It's complicated.

Even if councillors really wanted to get rid of the placards, they might not be able to.
Jul 26th 2016, 11:32 AM 9,288 18

IT’S BEEN DONE elsewhere, without much of an issue.

Most councils in Scotland, for instance, have banned election candidates from erecting posters on lampposts and street signs.

Local authorities here are now starting to take action about the proliferation of posters: earlier this month South Dublin County Council asked its environment committee to look at restrictions.

And last night, the matter came before the country’s largest local authority – Dublin City Council.

The result? It’s not likely any substantial progress will be made – but the councillor who introduced the motion, Fine Gael’s Paddy Smyth, insisted this morning he was happy the issue’s now on the agenda, and that further headway would be made in the future.

What happened? 

Smyth’s proposed measure would have banned the erection of posters on council property – effectively banning election placards from the entire city area, aside from private property.

But a number of amendments were introduced by other councillors in a debate last night.

The amended motion would change the city’s by-laws to allow for postering in certain limited areas only, to be designated by local area committees.

This could mean posters would be limited to a handful of streets in any given suburb, said Smyth, who represents Rathgar-Rathmines.

Another option, he said, “would be for a local area committee to erect a wooden platform, outside the Swan Centre, say – with an equal amount of space for each candidate”.

Will that happen? 

It’s not clear, however, if that motion can be enforced by the Council.

The matter’s going to the authority’s law agent today, who will advise on whether it’s legal.

Either way, Smyth says he intends to bring the matter up with the authority’s environmental policy committee – and to reintroduce a motion to the council at a future meeting.

“There’s definitely a consensus that something should be done about the proliferation of posters,” he said.

28/5/2014. Sinn Fein Removing Posters Sinn Féin's Lynn Boylan and Mary Lou McDonald make a point of removing posters in the wake of the 2014 Euro elections. Source: Sam Boal

‘Can’t overrule’ 

Lord mayor Brendan Carr said the Council was advised by the city CEO in advance of the meeting yesterday that councillors couldn’t bring in by-laws to overrule national law on the issue.

“The question was raised as to why politicians in Dublin should be disadvantaged over politicians in the rest of the country,” Carr said.

The law agent will come back to us later today.

Carr, a Labour councillor, said candidates already entered into “gentleman’s agreements” not to poster certain areas. “We never poster O’Connell Street, for instance.”

He suggested these agreements could be extended in future elections.

Smyth, meanwhile, said he was hoping arguments around the issue could be ironed out at committee level – before the matter is reintroduced at a wider meeting.

Something definitely needs to be done – so I’m hoping this can be brought in in the South East Area at least.

The 30 day rule 

Election posters can only be erected 30 days before polling day, or from the date the polling day order for the election is made (whichever is shorter).

They have to be removed within seven days of election day.

Read: Fed up with election posters? One council is looking at banning them >

Read: Dublin City Council backs call for new Luas trams to be automated >

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Daragh Brophy

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