Posters belonging to Clare’s General Election candidates have been reported as stolen, others have disappeared with more vandalised.
Cllr Cathal Crowe (FF) had a number of his posters stolen last week and reported the matter to Shannon Garda Station. Crowe has kept a record of where each poster has been placed with a number later appearing in Doonbeg , the home base of running mate Rita McInerney. Crowe has said no members of his team erected the posters.
Speaking to The Clare Echo, Pat Breen (FG) outlined that in this campaign more than any other his posters have disappeared. “All my posters are disappearing, someone is taking them whatever is happening. I can assure you, the wind isn’t taking them down because they were put up well.
“Some of my posters are being vandalised with foul words written on them which is a sad sign of democracy that people have to go to those lengths to pull up on a main road and spray paint posters. I worry about society at this stage in terms of fragmentation, once we have democracy it’s really important that people can air their voice in a free world without being intimidated. It is sad to see people interfere with posters, more were taken down this weekend, posters don’t win elections but they are part of the election scene and it is an offence to interfere with posters during an election campaign”.
Michael Leahy (IFP) condemned those responsible for defacing a number of his posters along the Lahinch Rd. He told The Clare Echo, “racist, anti-Catholic and crystophobic slurs” have been written on his posters. “It is necessary for all parties to stand up against far-left intimidation and bullying. We witnessed this before during the marriage referendum and to a lesser extent during the abortion referendum, where individuals considered to be on the ‘wrong side’ of the debate were targeted and had property damaged. The centrist parties did nothing to stand up to this at the time and it is now becoming commonplace for far-left bullies to try to close down debate and the expression of legitimate opinion.
“Instead of facing them down, the main parties seem to be buckling to their demands and are on the cusp of introducing ‘speech crime’ legislation aimed at closing down freedom of speech. I have consistently argued that this is an important element in the current election debate as without freedom of speech, which is the primary liberty, there will be no possibility of protecting our other freedoms”. Mr Leahy has referred the matter to An Garda Síochána.
Polling takes place on Saturday.