Posters of Laois politicians in 2016
Potential candidates may have to rely on social media to promote themselves in the forthcoming elections, as local councillors have proposed a complete ban on election posters in the Portlaoise area.
“A throwback to a different era” which “should be consigned to the scrap heap of history” was how Cllr Noel Tuohy described the posters, at today’s meeting of the Portlaoise Municipal District.
Proposing a motion calling on the council to implement a no postering policy during the upcoming local and general elections, Cllr Tuohy said: “Posters come from a political era when there was only one TV station and one radio station and when Gay Byrne was the voice and conscience of the public mood. There were no mobile phones, no internet, no social media, no online platforms and in order to get the GAA, soccer or rugby fixtures you had to go out and buy the local paper. Times have changed and so must we.”
He called on all public representatives to show leadership and lead by example and not just pay lip service on the issues of climate change and the threats to nature and biodiversity.
However, he added that it will only work if everyone agrees.
“Banning election posters won’t save the planet, but it will help,” he said.
Supporting the motion, Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald said there had been a Public Participation Network meeting recently and it was voted by a huge majority to ban posters, especially within the 50km/h speed limit areas.
She acknowledged that new candidates may be at a disadvantage due to this, but pointed out that there had been “a lot of skullduggery” during the last election with posters being burnt or taken down.
Cllr Willie Aird said it was not fair on people who live outside the 50km/h areas, as election posters can “absolutely pollute the countryside”.
Cllr John Joe Fennelly said the problem wasn’t just with election posters, as he knew of a bus shelter adorned with posters advertising a circus that took four people to clean.
Cllr Caroline Dwane Stanley said she would have no issue with the proposal so long as everybody agrees to it.
“We can’t enforce this on new candidates, they have the legal right to put posters up and Laois County Council wouldn’t have the authority to remove it,” she said.
However, Cllr Tuohy said that if everyone agreed to the poster ban, then any candidate who decided to put a poster up would be committing political suicide.
Cllr Fitzgerald agreed, saying that anyone who did so would be going against the will of the people.
In response to Cllr Tuohy’s motion, Mr Kieran Kehoe, director of services, said there is legislative provision in the litter management act which allows the erection of election posters for certain timeframes before and after the election date.
Should a town/village wish to insist upon a no-postering policy it should be requested by the relevant Tidy Towns association and adherence/compliance is at the discretion of the nominated candidates in each case, he said.