Fine Gael General Election candidate, Senator Paudie Coffey, has called on parties and politicians from across the political divide to unite in calling for a ban on election posters.
The former minister was the first Oireachtas member in the country to call for the poster ban back in October. Since then several politicians across the country, in Galway, Mayo, Kildare, Laois and Leitrim have joined a growing chorus calling for posters to be scrapped in their constituencies.
Some local authority executives have speculated there may be legal difficulties with implementing a ban on election posters.
However, Senator Coffey pointed out that similar bans have been successfully implemented in a number of towns across the country in the past, including in Lismore, where election candidates agreed not to erect posters on their picturesque streets.
Senator Coffey urged Waterford City and County Council to “champion” the ban and lead by example in scrapping election posters throughout the entire constituency in time for next year’s local and European elections.
“It is certainly time we had a national discussion and debate about the proliferation of environmentally harmful posters in our cities, towns and villages come election time. The vast majority of people are in favour of getting rid of them, and we as politicians should lead by example.”
Senator Coffey has fought five election campaigns since he first entered politics. A keen cyclist and outdoors enthusiast, he believes growing concerns over the environment and the huge rise in social media use means there is little moral justification, or practical need, for election candidates to plaster posters of themselves across the constituency at election time.
Senator Coffey said: “Increasing concern around plastic waste and our environment is reason enough for our politicians to seriously consider eliminating the use of election posters. This is something I, as one of the selected candidates for the next General Election, would strongly support and I hope all the other candidates would be agreeable to it.
“While voters do need to recognise candidates and understand what policies or manifestos they are promoting at election time, the advent of social media and other digital communication tools means it is now surely time to review past practices of electioneering and to promote more sustainable ways of engaging with the public in a way that is less harmful and damaging to our environment.”
One possible alternative to the posters would be to allocate designated zones at the edges of towns and villages where candidates’ images and information can be communicated to voters. This approach has been successful in some European countries, and Senator Coffey feels this would work well here also.
The Waterford Fine Gael General Election candidate added: “The days of erecting these expensive glossy posters, which are damaging to the environment and are becoming a major turn-off for many voters are surely numbered. But why should we wait to follow the example of others when we can lead the way here in Waterford?”