Cobh urges campaigns to respect town's ban on referendum posters

Cobh urges campaigns to respect town's ban on referendum posters

Cobh Tidy Towns are reiterating their call to keep the town a poster-free zone.

COBH Tidy Towns are reiterating their call to keep the town a poster-free zone, after a number of placards calling for a no vote in the upcoming referendum were put up in the town.

Ken Curtin, secretary of Cobh Tidy Towns, said it was a long-standing initiative that has previously been respected.

“Our hope is that people would reflect on the fact that we are a tourist town,” he said. “On any given day we have cruise ships visiting and tourists, and like many other tourist towns, we try to keep it poster-free, regardless of the issue.

“We did this is the last general election and for the marriage equality referendum and it was respected by all. It is not a new initiative and has worked well in the past.” 

Mr Curtin said he contacted John McGuirk, communications director for one of the main groups campaigning for a no vote, who told him he would pass the message on and no further posters have been added. Campaigners on the other side of the referendum have told Cobh Tidy Town they would respect the poster-free zone.

Mr McGuirk said: "Save the 8th was not informed about the poster policy adopted by Cobh Tidy Towns. When contacted, we immediately stopped erecting posters in the town. We do believe in this instance, the policy could have been communicated in advance.” 

The posters that were put up remain in place and Mr Curtin emphasised that he was not calling on anyone else to remove them.

“As citizens of Cobh, we can’t remove posters and it is legal for them to put up posters,” he said.

On Saturday afternoon, a number of Cobh residents also gathered to protest what they described as “aggressive behaviour by pro-life campaigners”.

Twice last week, campaigners appeared in the town with large, graphic posters calling for a no vote.

“The people involved have been engaging in a campaign of bullying Cobh residents,” Alison Reilly, chair of Cobh Together For Yes said.

“They have put graphic and upsetting images outside the children’s playground. We gathered together on Saturday because enough is enough. People should feel safe in Cobh.” “I don’t know why these people have targeted Cobh specifically,” Anne Mallon, secretary of Cobh Together For Yes added.

“It seems as though because they have upset people they think that this is a positive thing.” 

Mr Curtin emphasised that Cobh Tidy Town was apolitical and not taking any stance on the referendum but added: “As an individual, I thought those posters were appalling. I think the vast majority of the people on the no side of the campaign would have nothing to do with them.

“They were truly offensive. The worst part of it was the locations they set up in, near our beautiful new playground in Cobh and next to a sweetshop.” 

“We deplore any organisation that erects distressing images at playgrounds, or anywhere else," Mr McGuirk added. "This is completely wrong, and would be condemned by the overwhelming majority of reasonable pro-life people. Those who did that do not represent Save the 8th.”

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