In 2016 ahead of the general election, Swinford tidy towns committee asked all candidates to refrain from erecting election posters in the Swinford town environs. Thankfully we had a hugely positive response from all candidates, who all complied with our request. When contacted, all of the candidates were delighted with our initiative with some remarking on the positive effects on the environment as well as expense spared! When other tidy towns committees in towns and villages around the country heard of our campaign, they also followed our example, also with very positive results.
Election posters are the bane of many’s a tidy towns committee and volunteers the country over. As well as being an eyesore, they are also extremely damaging to the environment. The posters are made from “corriboard” which like most other plastics, takes over 400 years to biodegrade. The cable ties are a particular annoyance to tidy towns volunteers. Most of the time they are left behind after the poster has been pulled off the poles. Other times they are cut and just discarded wherever they fall. After the 2011 general election, 2 of Swinford tidy towns volunteers collected 8, yes EIGHT large bin liner bags of cable ties. These were just from Swinford town environs and bypass. How many more are strewn all over the countryside?
Zerowaste.ie and PosterFfree.ie are currently running a campaign to ban all single use plastics from the upcoming local and European elections. They have been in contact with all tidy towns committees nationwide to come on board with the campaign and contact all the local candidates to refrain from using corriboard posters in this years elections in May.
In a 2018 Claire Byrne Live/Amárach Research poll, 77% of respondents said that they thought the use of posters during election campaigns should be banned. Swinford Tidy Towns ran our own poll on our facebook and twitter pages on the week of the 18th to the 25th of February 2019. The results, as you can see, are overwhelmingly in favour of banning election posters.
Our snap poll was picked up and reported on in the local media. The Connaught Telegraph reported on our campaign and stated that, “The matter will be discussed at a Ballina Municipal District meeting tomorrow (Wednesday 20th February 2019) where Councillors Neil Cruise and Michael Smyth have tabled a motion asking candidates not to erect posters in the Ballina and Swinford electoral areas in the run up to the elections.”