€10k litter fines for anti-water fee groups

The People’s Convention and groups linked to it have been hit with over €10,000 in litter fines for alleged illegal postering in Cork City.

Cork City Council has, between January and April 21, issued 122 on-the-spot fines for offences under Section 19 of the Litter Pollution Act 1997. Of these, 46 relating to fly-postering were issued to one organisation based at The People’s Convention’s offices on Douglas St. Some 19 of these were on-the-spot fines.

A further 27 on-the-spot fines were issued to another organisation based at the same address. The combined fines total is over €10,000.

“We will not be paying these fines because they are part of a persecution,” group spokesman Diarmaid Ó Cadhla said. “I don’t know of anybody in Cork who has ever received this number of litter fines. We have asked the city council to bring us to court and let a judge settle the question.”

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The fines arise out of a long-running dispute between the council and The People’s Convention over its practice of postering across the city.

Earlier this year, council staff were ordered to remove hundreds of the group’s election-style corrie board posters advertising public meetings on water charges.

Council officials insisted that the group required prior council permission to erect the posters.

It confiscated almost 250 of the removed posters, worth up to €1,000.

The stand-off prompted The People’s Convention to occupy City Hall’s council chamber last month, forcing a council meeting to be abandoned.

Mr Ó Cadhla said because their posters were retained, they had no option but to use fly-postering to advertise their meetings.

However, following talks in recent months, the corrie board posters have been returned to the group.

City Hall is also drafting a new protocol to govern the erection of such posters in future. But Mr Ó Cadhla insisted people have a democratic right to free assembly and a right to erect posters to advertise public meetings.

“If you don’t have the means to advertise your meeting, you may as well not have the right to the meeting,” he said. “There is no question of permission being needed as far as we’re concerned.”

He accepted pasted posters are less environmentally friendly but insisted the group was within its rights to use them, and will do so again if necessary.

“That isn’t litter. In fact, the exercise of this right is enshrined in our Constitution, it’s enshrined in the UN Charter of Human rights, and it’s enshrined also in the Litter Act which states that it’s not an offence to hang posters in public places to advertise public meetings.”

The group has been told it has 21 days to pay the fines or face District Court proceedings.

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