Galway city councillors have voted down a motion which would have seen a voluntary ban imposed on the use of election posters by candidates ahead of local elections in May.
The motion put forward by Fine Gael councillor Pearce Flannery, at the council’s ordinary meeting at City Hall on Monday night, called for candidates to sign up to a voluntary code that would see them agree to erecting posters only in specifically designated areas.
The areas would involve one outdoor area in each ward as well as equal space for every candidate at City Hall.
Before the vote Cllr Flannery said councillors needed to lead by example when it came to caring for the environment.
“We are a Green Leaf city. Are we interested in [the Green Leaf status] or are we paying lip it service? [The space] would be equal for all. It is the same size space for all [candidates].
“Fifty municipal districts in Limerick have signed up for this. To give credit to election candidates [non-councillors] have said they will get behind motion. We need to lead by example. European candidates will follow our example if voluntary code comes through.
“The mayor is big on Tidy Towns. We spoke for two hours on litter [this evening]. [This voluntary poster ban] will show we are willing to protect the society and environment we live in.”
Despite supporting the spirit of Cllr Flannery’s motion, many councillors were not willing to back the motion.
Sinn Féin councillor Mairéad Farrell disagreed with the motion as she believed it favoured incumbent councillors.
“Personally I think it favours incumbents which I believe leads to a closed shop. Personally, for there to be as many people as possible to have a chance [of becoming a councillor] I believe posters should stay in place.”
Labour councillor Billy Cameron said he respected the motion but he did not think “the Irish people are ready for it”. He also concurred with Cllr Farrell that the removal of posters would only benefit larger parties and incumbents.
The motion was defeated with five voting for, 12 against, and one absent.
In response to the result, Independent councillor Mike Cubbard maintained that he would not be using posters in the upcoming election campaign.
Cllr Cubbard said; “l argue this actually suits the larger parties with bigger budgets as they can blitz an area as they see fit. I am bitterly disappointed that following a two hour debate on littering in general this is the decision taken by the elected body. I again reiterate my initial stance, however, that despite a very low level of support for this opportunity to make it a level playing field, I am opting against using election posters.
“I hope those who voted against the motion at the very least ensure we do not have multiple posters of their relevant party leader erected, as is always the case. With 30 candidates, European candidates and a referendum, Galway city will have thousands of posters erected in six weeks’ time - I for one will not be joining them and will continue to campaign in an effective and as efficient manner as a poster campaign would bring.”