March 11th, 2019
A voluntary ban on election posters is now in place in over 100 towns following a campaign for the elimination of waste generated from candidates’ publicity posters.
Since its launch in February, the Poster Free campaign has attracted significant public support with a new poll revealing that 77 per cent of television viewers favoured the waste-reducing initiative.
The 101 towns and areas to impose the voluntarily ban include municipalities in counties Cork, Dublin, Galway and Limerick. The campaign organisers now want to see a nationwide ban on election posters.
In 2014, just over 2000 candidates ran for 750 seats in the local elections, erecting over 600,000 posters, the equivalent of 23 Croke Park Stadiums.
Those posters have reportedly produced 360 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide (CO2), the same amount generated if an average car drove non-stop for 592 days. Similar number expected to be distributed this May during both local and European elections.
Promotional posters can also pose a threat to public safety by covering road signage leading to motorway accidents.
Cyclists have also complained about improperly positioned posters that often block their path and put their lives in danger.
Under the country’s anti-litter legislations including the Litter Pollution Act of 1997, endangering public safety by inappropriately positioning promotional posters is an offence.
Public outcry against posters rose to prominence in the lead up to the Eight Amendment referendum where a Claire Byrne Live/Amarach Research poll found that 74 per cent of people agreed that referendum posters should be banned.
Karen Doyle, an Independent local election candidate running for Cobh municipality, where the new voluntarily ban is now in place, welcomed the new initiative.
“With all the different parties and individuals trying to get their face out there on every second pole the entire place was becoming very littered leading to a type of poster fatigue,” she told The Green News.
Ms Doyle said that if candidates had to gather and recycle their own posters or a limit to how many posters candidates could print, the issue would not have turned into such threat to the environment.
Last week Green Party Senator Grace O’Sullivan put down an amendment to the Government’s European Parliament Elections (Amendment) Bill 2019 to restrict the use of posters to designated public spaces only. The amendment was ruled out of order .
Almost all EU countries instead limit posters to designated areas, administered by their local authorities, and often dismantle them outside of election time.
Ms O’Sullivan, a candidate for Ireland South in the upcoming European Elections, said that a similar system in Ireland would give equal space to each party, while still allowing citizens to familiarise themselves with the candidates and serving as reminders of the elections taking place.