UP to a quarter of Councillor Cathal Crowe’s election posters have been removed or stolen in his constituency since April 23. Councillor Crowe intends to report the matter to gardaí, as he believes it is not just natural wastage, but rather a targeted operation to cut down and remove his election posters. “Close on 45 or 50 have come down. I’ve about 200 up. They are not just mine that are coming down but, certainly, a lot of mine have come down.
“The same evening some of mine came down, some of Councillor John Crowe’s were also taken down. The posters are €7 a piece, so I’m going to the gardaí to report them stolen.”
He explained his posters were taken down at the last election but put back up afterwards, so he would be subject to a litter fine of €150 per poster. I’m going to report them stolen for two reasons, so the gardaí might keep an eye out for it happening and so that after the election I won’t be penalised for these election posters,” he said.
Councillor Crowe said reports from locals suggest a van has been sighted removing the posters at night. He said this seems to tally as the posters are not thrown over a ditch or left at the roadside; the cut cable ties often are the only thing remaining to suggest a poster was once there.
He conceded in every election there “is always some bit of natural wastage where a few come down; kids will always do that but this has a more sinister element, posters are not being flung into a ditch; they are ending up in the back of a van and being driven away with.
“It’s not wind or damage, as the cable ties are going with them. Anyone can rip them down but my posters are being cut and I’m seeing cut cable ties on the ground. One of the posters was more than eight foot off the ground so someone is going to efforts to remove them,” he said.
He added that the removal wasn’t sporadic, as there are stretches of roads where posters have been “wiped out”.
“I think there is a sinister element to it and I don’t know what the motivation behind it is but I think it is someone trying to derail my campaign,” he said.
Councillor Crowe has decided rather than re-printing posters he has recycled his 2009 posters.
“I’ve turned it on its head and I’ve printed recycling stickers saying I’m recycling 2009 posters. I had to update it a little bit to make it legal,” he said.
While he is aware that some communities have adopted poster free zones, he does not believe this is what has occurred as “in some cases, my posters could be on a pole and the poster above or below it would be left alone but mine would be gone”.
He added that having contacted the county council, his posters are not breaching any of their guidelines for hanging posters, nor those of the NRA.