Candidates defy litter laws ‘to highlight inequality’

Several local election candidates defied litter pollution laws yesterday to highlight what they claim is an “inequality” in electoral law.

Candidates defy litter laws ‘to highlight inequality’

Under the Local Elections Order, signed in March 2009, election posters can only be erected within 30 days of a polling date.

It means election posters for the May local and European elections cannot be erected until April 23.

Candidates or parties who erect posters before this date are in breach of the law and could face prosecution under section 19 of the Litter Pollution Act 1997.

However, the People’s Convention said candidates from the main political parties are already advertising their campaigns and candidates on bus shelter hoardings and on billboards.

The Department of the Environment considers this to be commercial advertising, not election postering.

“Any person may buy this advertising space at any time of the year to advertise their product/service,” department guidelines state.

Several People’s Convention candidates illegally erected an election poster on a street pole directly outside Cork’s City Hall yesterday to highlight the “inequality”. They removed it some time later after the symbolic protest.

Diarmaid Ó Cadhla, a spokesman for the People’s Convention, said: “While people are forced through their taxation to finance the activities of the main political parties, including paying for rental of private space hoardings to display election posters, the people themselves cannot use public space to display their posters.

“Our tax money is being used to create an unequal situation, an unequal playing field, in the election contest. If we had plenty of money, we could hire public space. The political parties are doing that and we, as taxpayers, are being made to pay for that activity. It should be an even playing field for all parties.”

Deirdre Clune, a Fine Gael senator who is running in the European election, said her party has not funded her bus shelter advertising campaign.

She has bought advertising space on dozens of bus shelters across the Ireland South constituency, funded entirely that from her own personal election fund.

“The party has no involvement in this two-week campaign. This form of advertising is open to any candidate, and the People’s Convention could go away in the morning and do exactly the same,” she said.

She said the party will, however, help fund an election poster campaign after April 23, the permitted date.

Mr Ó Cadhla said while the party had hoped to run 31 candidates in the city, that won’t happen. But it will have a candidate contesting in every city council ward.

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