Belfast Telegraph

Unionists, SDLP and Alliance strike no-poster pact

By Noel McAdam

They are an eyesore every time an election comes around, but this time voters in one part of Northern Ireland will see fewer candidate posters.

Four parties - the DUP, SDLP, Ulster Unionists and Alliance - have agreed a no-poster pact in the Lagan Valley constituency and will instead focus on knocking doors. But if one party breaches the deal, all bets are off.

The agreement ends a few hours before the electorate goes to the polls on March 2.

From around teatime the night before, the four parties will erect a limited number of posters at polling stations.

A joint statement said: "We recognise the desire from the public to minimise disruption during this election campaign and believe this is the right step to take.

"Engagement with the electorate will (instead) be focused on the doorstep."

The parties also appealed to political rivals Sinn Fein, the Greens, TUV, People Before Profit and others to join them. "Other parties should follow our lead," a spokesperson said.

The parties' statement added: "This voluntary agreement is in place until 6pm on March 1, at which point candidates may place a limited number of posters outside each polling station.

"No posters will be placed on main/arterial roads unless directly outside a polling station. If this agreement is broken by one party, it is no longer valid."

The pact relates to posters on lamp-posts only and does not extend to, for example, billboard or mobile advertising.

Before the agreement was announced, UUP chairman Lord Empey called on parties to debate a voluntary ban on election posters. "Parties are unlikely to act unilaterally on this so as not to place their candidates at a disadvantage," he said.

"But I believe that in terms of the environment, financial cost and the visual impact on local areas, there is a very strong argument to be made for parties agreeing a voluntary ban."

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