RETAILERS may have to foot the bill if graffiti artists “vandalise” their stores in future, if a new bye-law is passed at Limerick City Council.
Labour councillor Joe Leddin is calling on the council to introduce a bye-law compelling the owners of commercial properties to remove graffiti that can be viewed by the public from their premises “within a reasonable or specific time period”.
But Independent councillor and former mayor John Gilligan said he is opposed to this motion, as he believes it will “penalise the victims”.
City auctioneer Pat Kearney also said he regards the motion as a “bad solution to a bad problem”, which “misses the point” in not penalising the perpetrator. Mr Kearney said he expects other business owners in the city would also be opposed to this new bye-law.
Addressing the council during a meeting this Monday night, Cllr Leddin said he did not find it unreasonable to ask “owners to buy a tin of paint” to carry out the works themselves.
Fellow Labour councillor Tom Shortt, an art teacher, said he can see that certain types of graffiti is a scourge in the city, but he also sees it as an art. “If you had a Michelangelo in the family he’d be painting the ceiling,” said Cllr Shortt.
Fine Gael councillor Diarmuid Scully replied that Michelangelo was invited and commissioned to paint the Sistine Chapel, unlike graffiti artists in Limerick. Cllr Shortt went on to claim that thefts from shops in the city as a result of drug addictions poses a much bigger economic impact to the livelihood of these businesses. “Providing a few designated walls for this type of work might be the way forward,” he said.
Last month Cllr Leddin called for those suspected of spraying graffiti on public structures across the city to be “named and shamed”. His motion has been put back to the environment strategic policy committee for further discussion.
The Limerick Leader understands that a small number of young people have been issued with on-the-spot fines recently in relation to incidents of illegal graffiti and so called ‘tagging’ across the city. More than 40 fines of €150 each have been issued by Limerick City Council and if they are not paid court proceedings will be initiated.