Three months out from May’s Assembly election, a former Ulster Unionist leader has led renewed calls for a voluntary ban on election posters.
UUP chairman Lord Empey yesterday wrote to the chairmen of the other political parties to propose an agreement not to use any posters, which he said could cost between £3.50 and £4 each.
Lord Empey accepted that no party would act on its own on the issue, as to do so would give an advantage to its rivals.
He proposed that it could be a “worthwhile gesture” to donate “say 10 per cent of what we were intending to spend on posters this year to local charities and not proceed to plaster Northern Ireland with them”.
The former Stormont minister said in his letter: “We all put up thousands of posters around our towns, cities and rural areas. Many people believe these to be environmentally unfriendly, ugly and in a few cases dangerous to the public and even to our own election workers.
“There have been cases of members of the public or their property being hit by posters carried on strong winds as the plastic they are made from is very strong and sharp. Election workers have been hurt as they erect them on poles, etc.
“This matter was discussed before and there was an indication that the environment department was going to bring forward proposals on how to proceed in this matter, but nothing has so far emerged.
“I am suggesting to you that in the absence of any legal prohibition on the erection of these posters, we, as parties, agree a voluntary ban on them for the upcoming Assembly elections.”
Last year the environment minister wrote to parties “reminding them of their obligations to road safety when placing election posters”.