Candidates face €150 fine for each poster put up early
MEP Paul Murphy among candidates who put up posters before official start date today
Dublin city councillor Mannix Flynn’s posters in Temple Bar yesterday. Mr Flynn says his posters are on private property and so are legal. Photograph: Cyril Byrne
Some European and local election candidates face the prospect of fines in the run-up to polling day after putting up posters before it was permitted to do so at midnight last night.
Today is the first day candidates and political parties are allowed to put up posters for the May 23rd elections, but numerous candidates began postering early yesterday, as well as over the weekend.
All four local authorities said there were aware of posters being put up early in their areas, and there is a €150 fine for each individual poster put up illegally. The fines must be paid 21-28 days after being imposed, although there are appeals processes.
Socialist Party Dublin MEP Paul Murphy admitted putting up about 1,000 posters early in the south Dublin and Fingal areas, but claimed he was left with no choice because Fianna Fáil candidate Mary Fitzpatrick had already put up hers.
Mr Murphy was instructed by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council to take his down, but he said he would put them up again once allowed to do so.
He also said he hoped to mostly avoid the fines, which would cost him €150,000 if he was fined for every poster.
Dublin city councillor Mannix Flynn last night said the posters he has put up are within the law, since they are mounted on private property and not on lampposts.
There have been reports of Fine Gael posters going up in some areas, as well as Fianna Fáil posters around Fairyhouse racecourse in Co Meath in time for the Grand National festival last weekend. Timmy Dooley, Fianna Fáil’s director of elections, said a “couple of over-eager campaigners” had put up posters in areas like Clontarf but had since been instructed to take them down.
Fingal County Council said it took down about 100 posters yesterday from numerous candidates, both local and European, and will begin issuing fines today.
“Fingal County Council has received less than 10 complaints on this issue, most of which relate to the multiplicity of posters erected over the weekend,” a spokeswoman said, adding “the majority of complaints received were with regard to the Mulhuddart area in Dublin 15”.
Fingal gives offenders three weeks to pay the fines, but says: “However, as a practice, we issue a reminder letter after the 21 days are up and give an additional 10 calendar days for the fine to be paid”.
Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council last night said one candidate had put up posters early and was taking them down, with fines to follow.
The council said the fines must be paid within 28 days and “in one lump sum payment”. South Dublin County Council said it received four complaints yesterday in “relation to the early erection of posters in the Tallaght and Rathfarnham areas”.
“These reports have all been referred to the Litter Warden Service for investigation and appropriate enforcement action.”
Dublin City Council said it had also received complaints and was carrying out its own investigations.