Posters of sitting councillors in the Killaloe Municipal District will not be visible for May’s local elections, their decision has been welcomed by new candidates who are annoyed not to have been consulted about the charter.
Outgoing elected representatives, Alan O’Callaghan, Joe Cooney, Pat Burke, Pat Hayes and Tony O’Brien have agreed to a voluntary charter across the District. In a joint statement to The Clare Echo they said they “are ardent supporters of climate action and reducing the electoral areas carbon footprint. This decision underpins their ongoing commitment to the Tidy Towns and volunteer groups” across the MD.
Earlier this year, sitting councillors in the Ennis and West Clare MD signed up to a voluntary charter and were sympathetic to new candidates opting to use posters to build their presence. However the five in Killaloe have called “on other candidates and political parties who will be participating in the upcoming local and European elections to follow their lead and set aside differences when it comes to making all of East Clare a greener place”.
A field of nine candidates has been confirmed so far in the Killaloe MD, Ger O’Halloran (Fine Gael), Barry O’Donovan (Green Party), Beckha Doyle (Social Democrats) and Sean Naughton (Sinn Féin) will compete against the five sitting councillors for five seats on the Council.
Barry O’Donovan wrote to the Killaloe MD and its elected representatives in March asking them to organise a meeting between all sitting and prospective candidates to outline their stance on posters. “I have never been in favour of using posters and I welcome the fact that the sitting councillors are showing concern for the environment, both physical and visual, but I am very concerned about the effect this will have on the democratic process. As the sitting councillors they have the advantage of name recognition and incumbency, they need to balance this by putting in place a framework to ensure that all candidates can put their positions forward equally, for example by facilitating public information spaces in each town and village in the run up to the election”.
Ger O’Halloran told The Clare Echo he would be “reserving my right to use posters” and was disappointed the sitting councillors did not discuss the matter with the competing candidates. “I am aware of the position the councillors have taken and they have stated it is driven by their need to respect the carbon footprint involved. I look forward to them following up with more actions in terms of how they deal with their interactions and dealings with fossil fuels before, during and after the elections. I am not a councillor, I was not invited to the meeting where the decision was made. I believe there was an opportunity to bring all candidates for such a discussion but the councillors have taken a particular route. As of now I am reserving my right to use posters and I am conscious of the not only the legislation and regulations around the use of posters at election time but I am also aware of my personal responsibilities on the matter”.
Beckha Doyle has confirmed she will not be using posters in her first election. “I have previously publicly supported the posterfree.ie campaign and feel that we need to move toward more environmentally friendly alternatives in the future, so many other countries manage elections without the need for posters. I decided against using them when initially deciding to run, but I believe that the voluntary charter is a great idea and it is fantastic to see others signing up to this more environmentally friendly approach”.
Sean Naughton has revealed he will be using posters while campaigning for the local elections.