Election and referendum posters are regulated by law under the Litter Pollution Act 1997 (as amended) and by electoral law. Electoral law provides that every notice, bill, poster or similar document having reference to a Dáil, Presidential or European election or to a referendum shall bear upon its face the name and address of the printer and publisher thereof. Failure to comply with this provision is an offence.
The Electoral Acts do not regulate the content of electoral material, including election posters, either during or outside of electoral campaigns. However, the Public Order Act 1994 provides that is an offence for any person in a public place to distribute or display any writing, sign or visible representation, which is threatening, abusive, insulting or obscene with intent to provoke a breach of peace.
The Litter Pollution Act (section 19(7)) provides that election or referendum posters may be erected/exhibited for a specified time period prior to and after a polling date. Failure to comply with this provision is also an offence. By way of background, section 19(7) of the Litter Pollution Act 1997 was amended by the Electoral (Amendment) (No.2) Act 2009 to introduce a 30-day time limit prior to an election taking place, during which election posters can be displayed. Prior to this amendment, the relevant legislation had required that election posters be taken down within 7 days of an election but provided no time limit for the period prior to an election within which posters could be displayed. This legislation now ensures that posters are only displayed for a finite and reasonable period.
There is no requirement in law that posters at an election or referendum must be erected. It is open to political parties, candidates or other groups to decide whether or not to do so.
I am satisfied that, overall, the existing arrangements are operating quite well and while electoral law is subject to ongoing review, I have no plans in the short term to revise the legislation related to the erection of election posters or to revise legislation on election expenses in that regard.