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Call for Ennis election poster zone

Election 2024 is already on the minds of Ennis councillors with a call being made for the creation of designated sites for the erection of election posters rather than having them on lampposts and other locations throughout the county capital.
Councillor Mary Howard (FG) made the novel suggestion at a recent meeting of the Ennis Municipal District where she said specific sites for posters would encourage “responsible consumption, climate action and reducing the visual impact of posters, while also ensuring equity between new and existing candidates”.
The council executive responded by stating a bill intending to regulate the placement of election posters and referendum material to “designated areas” chosen by local authorities has not been enacted.
Councillor Howard recalled that back in 2019, sitting members of the Ennis Municipal District voluntarily agreed not to erect posters, however this agreement did not extend to incoming candidates.
Councillor Howard described the move as a “very brave step” for the members of the local authority. She outlined that Ennis Tidy Towns are faced with “unsightly and horrible” cable ties left on poles after elections.
She suggested that candidates could be given a specific area to display their posters which would be climate friendly and equitable. She recalled a poll in the Journal which saw more than 8,000 respondents out of 10,000 agree there should be restrictions on election postering.
She pointed out that this idea has been adopted in many European town in cities for many years. “In Portugal there are hoardings put on the side of trucks and they can be driven around or stationary.” She suggested the gable end of unused buildings could be used which would also “brighten them up” while also getting the message out there about election candidates.
Councillor O’Callaghan (FF) commented, “I have yet to meet somebody who says they hate posters” adding postering is a part of the “whole atmosphere” of elections. He stressed the importance of posters in increasing the profile of candidates among the electorate, saying without them it would put new candidates at a “disadvantage”.
Councillor Clare Colleran Molloy (FF) praised the idea saying she “absolutely” supported the motion. However she pointed out that even if the seven sitting councillors agreed, challengers for a council seat would not have to abide by the proposal.
Mayor of Ennis Councillor Pat Daly (FF) voiced his support for the suggestion saying a designated area would be preferable to posters “everywhere around the town”.
Councillor Johnny Flynn (FG) also backed the move, suggesting GMA funding could be allocated to fund a designated area.
However Councillor Ann Norton (Ind) said she is “a bit sceptical” of the idea. She recalled how in 2019 sitting councillors agreed to go poster free saying it “ended up defeating the purpose” when other candidates put up posters.
She predicted next year’s elections will see “a lot of new candidates putting their head above the parapet and we don’t want to do ourselves and injustice of not having posters when others have”. She said she liked the idea of having a designated area “but I don’t know if it will work”.
She said postering is “cheap advertising for getting names and faces out there”, remembering her first election campaign had just 10 posters. “I think the choice has to be there for people, and everybody has to make that choice”.
Leonore O’Neill, Senior Executive Officer, responding to the motion outlined that the rules for election posters are covered in section 19 of the Litter Pollution Act 1997 and the Electoral Act 2009.
This says that posters can only be erected after the polling day has been fixed by ministerial order, and for a maximum of 30 days before polling day
That posters must be removed within seven days after polling day, posters must include the name and address of the printer and posters may not be displayed within 50 metres of a polling station.
Additionally, under the Road Traffic Act 1961, posters may not be erected if they obstruct a traffic sign, could be confused with a traffic sign, or obstruct road users’ view of the road.
Laws on election posters and leaflets do not cover posters erected on private land with the owner’s permission, billboard advertisements, which come under regular planning laws and cars or trucks with election signage or pictures, so long as the signage is secured.
“The Regulation of Display of Electoral and Polling Posters and Other Advertisements Bill 2022 sought to amend the law relating to the display of posters and other advertisements for elections through the making of ministerial regulations to provide that advertisements relating to a presidential election within the meaning of the Presidential Elections Act 1993, a general election or a bye-election, within the meaning, in each case, of the Electoral Act 1992, a local election within the meaning of the Local Government Act 2001, an election of members of the European Parliament under the European Parliament Elections Act 1997, or a referendum, within the meaning of the Referendum Act 1994, shall only be displayed for the purposes of any of those acts on a structure which has been designated by the local authority for such advertisements,” she said.

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