Row over poster display in north Kildare town Main Street

Tidy Towns group speaks out but Celbridge councillors defend poster legal right

Henry Bauress

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Henry Bauress

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henry.bauress@leinsterleader.ie

Row over poster display in north Kildare town Main Street

Jarlath Daly, Celbridge Tidy Town Association PRO

The spokesperson for Celbridge Tidy Town Association has hit out against county councillors who voted against a poster free ban for Celbridge’s Main Street last month.

Jarlath Daly, PRO, for the Association, that after €300,000 was spent on improvements to the village centre, Cllrs Brendan Young, Bernard Caldwell and Ide Cussen voted against the blanket ban.

But those members have responded to the charge.

At the Celbridge-Leixlip Municipal District meeting (September 21), Cllr Michael Coleman proposed that Main Street, Celbridge be made a poster free zone from Castletown Gates to the Grotto, to include up to Elm Park on the Maynooth Road and across the bridge to McNamees.

But officials said the issue of election posters is dealt with in current legislation wherein there are exemptions [subject to conditions] outlined in the Litter Pollution Act and  any new policy or procedures would require an amendment to such legislation. “The only other option would be for voluntary protocols to be agreed locally by candidates/political parties but this would have to be on a voluntary basis.”

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Mr Daly told the Leader the Tidy Town Association could not understand why there was a vote to allow them in the Main Street. He thanked the proposers and Cllrs Joe Neville and Anthony Larkin for supporting the ban proposal.

Mr Daly said that they had “a verbal agreement” that posters would not be put up in the centre of the village and they were disappointed with councillors voting against that.

But Cllr Bernard Caldwell said he voted against the ban because he felt there needs to be consistency. He pointed to the large window display of Kildare North TD, Frank O’Rourke in Celbridge’s Main Street. “I believe in a level playing field,” he said.

He said the agreement to keep Leixlip’s Main Street poster free was kept by all.

Cllr Joe Neville, who voted for the Coleman motion, said Leixlip had benefited from the poster ban agreement and posters could be erected on approach roads.

Cllr Ide Cussen said she voted against the motion partly because of the advice of the officials and did not want to stop groups like the Blood Transfusion Service from putting up small posters. “A ban would be unenforceable,” she said. She also said there was a voluntary agreement and she was happy to adhere to that.

Cllr Anthony Larkin said he was “very surprised”  at the vote in principle, was against multiple postering and believes a public location should be used in the towns for one poster as is the norm in some European countries. “It would allow a even pitch.The legislation allows for election posters from announcing of election to seven days after polling so it’s really a local agreement only which I believe should be upheld.”

Cllr Larkin is proposing that  the Poster Free  Zone arrangement on Main Street, Leixlip, continues.

Cllr Brendan Young said a restriction would make it more difficult to publicise occasional local events, such as local meetings about the bus services, the water charges, etc. “The right to poster for local political events is a democratic right that should be retained: otherwise only those with the money to pay for advertising can publicise events. I might put up three or four posters on Main St. less than a week before an event and I take then down a few days after it. This is not the same as the big establishment parties that use contractors to put up thousands of posters for a month at election times and the sitting local TD's who can afford to rent offices on the Main St - which becomes a permanent public poster space - in contrast to the more modest postering by smaller parties and independents. While I support the work of the Tidy Towns, a blanket ban on posters in Celbridge Main St would benefit the establishment parties and is not something I would agree to."