THE RACE is on to see if Minister for Defence Willie O'Dea can remove two of his posters in Moyross before they are spotted by environment inspectors from Limerick City Council, and fines in excess of €250 are issued to Limerick East's general election heavyweight.
The council said "every opportunity and more" was given to candidates to remove their posters within seven days of the poll and this deadline was extended to Tuesday last.
However, Paul O'Grady, executive engineer at the city council environment department, said that now "the gloves are off".
"If he takes them down well and good. But if we get to them first, then we'll fine. We have three environment inspectors prowling the streets today (Thursday] and three more of us expect to be out and about with our cameras," said Mr O'Grady.
Minister O'Dea said this Thursday afternoon that he was not aware that posters were still remaining in Moyross but he wouldn't give the city council the opportunity to fine him. As he tries to avoid the sanction, he promised the Limerick Leader: "I'll have them taken down this minute."
At least three general election candidates in Limerick East were expected to be fined in the region of €1,250 by the end of the day. However, the council said they cannot reveal the identity of candidates as it may prejudice legal proceedings. "The persons or parties to whom litter fines are issued have the rights of reply and defence," said Mr O'Grady.
The council can only reveal that spoof candidate Mr Tayto has been charged a single litter fine of €125, under section 19 of the Litter Pollution Act 1997, as the matter has now be settled. "His 'election agent' pleaded guilty, paid up very quickly and the matter was closed," said Mr O'Grady.
A poster featuring Taoiseach Bertie Ahern was still visible on the Ennis Road this Wednesday night and at the time of going to press the council confirmed that two fines have been issued for posters on the Ennis Road and Dominick Street.
Candidates faced with fines will have to answer the allegation of littering either by admission (payment) or denial. If these fines are not paid or cancelled, court proceedings are expected to take place in October. Candidates will receive a number of reminders regarding the fines within the next two months.
Posters from other constituencies, including County Clare, have also managed to slip into the Limerick East area. The council said they are having difficulty in tracking candidates who haven't removed cable ties from poles in the city and are aiming to issue the same fines for individual cables ties. Mr O'Grady said over the coming weeks, council resources will have to be deployed to cut these down from over 1,000 poles.
Limerick County Council said all election posters have been removed in the Limerick West constituency. A spokesperson for the county council said they have not received any calls from the public notifying them of posters that still remain in the area and at this stage expect that no fines will be issued.