Call to issue fines to candidates campaigning before election called
Authorities have been urged to fine general election hopefuls who flout the law by putting up campaign posters before the poll is called.
Dozens of complaints have been made to council officials over the street placards erected on lamp posts as early as the weekend.
Political parties have blamed overzealous volunteers and even the recent stormy weather for the litter law breaches.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny is expected to announce the date of the election on Wednesday, widely expected to be on Friday February 26.
He will travel to Aras an Uachtarain and formally request that President Michael D Higgins dissolve the 31st Dail.
A number of candidates in the imminent ballot who were expecting the date to be disclosed earlier were forced back up street lamps to remove their posters.
Junior coalition partner Labour blamed an “overzealous party member” for jumping the gun in Dublin, where posters for sitting TD Joanna Tuffy as well as hopeful Councillor Pamela Kearns were put up ahead of the date being announced.
“It was an overzealous party member,” said a spokesman at Labour HQ.
“The law is the law and posters should not go up until the election is actually called and we would urge candidates observe the law in all of these matters.
“We are engaging with the county council on the matter, we are responding positively to their requests. Some of the posters have already been taken down.”
Sinn Fein blamed the windy weather for an early election poster for their candidate Louise O’Reilly, spotted on a lamp-post in Swords, north Dublin, over the weekend.
A party spokeswoman said a sticker advertising a local meeting was covering the election poster but was blown off during stormy conditions.
“The poster was put up on Saturday,” she added.
“Due to the windy conditions the decision was made to remove the poster completely.”
Under the Litter Pollution Act 1997, candidates face 150 euro on-the-spot fines for putting up election posters on public property ahead of the ballot being formally announced.
Former junior minister and Green Party councillor Ciaran Cuffe called for fines to be imposed.
“It is not OK that certain candidates are flouting the law, and trying to get ahead of the game by putting up their posters earlier,” he said.
“We’re surprised to see a number of Government TDs engaging in it.”
South Dublin County Council said it had received 30 complaints by midday on Tuesday about the early erection of election posters.
“Those offending candidates gave commitments to have their election posters removed immediately and no fine have issued as of time of reply,” a spokeswoman added.
Separately, the Road Safety Authority has warned political parties to take extra care when positioning campaign posters so that they do not obscure road signs.
“They should not be placed in known collision prone zones, where they risk distracting drivers and where campaign workers may be at risk when putting them up,” an RSA spokesman said.