The posters are up. The phoney war is over. The new belligerents being the fight for space on the poles, and avoiding the ire of the no posters anywhere focus groups.
In The Greens we always had a somewhat ambivalent attitude towards posters. The preference would have been not to use them at all.
After some debate it was decided to use posters, but they had to be generic. Greens also strongly opposed the personalisation of Irish politics, seeing it as one of its biggest problems. In fact we were wrong about that. It actually is one of Irish politics greatest strengths.
John Gormley almost caused a schism in the party, with his insistence to use not only his name but also his picture on his election poster. The slogan on that poster was also quite striking:
“Other parties promise you the Moon and the stars; Only The Greens promise The Earth,”.
He came very close in that election to bringing Garrett FitzGerald’s political career to an ignominious end.
Postering was different then. Paper posters had to be pasted onto hardboard backing. Rain usually pealed the paper away. After torrential rain the hardboard itself would get soaked breaking away from cable ties and risking severe injury to whoever might unluckily be passing.
Plastic posters that could be printed upon were seen as a boon. Being easier to make, easier to put up, more likely to stay up, has led to a proliferation of posters. That has created a whole other set of problems.
For me, however they are made, posters an important part of the democratic process.
They are a relatively low cost means of marketing that help to level the playing field between independent and smaller party candidates, and candidates of traditional political parties.
That many candidates go over the top in their use is undoubted. The snowblind effect of pole after pole taken up by a single candidate provides no useful benefit to the democratic process. There has to be standardisation. There has to be regulation.
One current Cork City Council candidate has produced a three metre long poster. Thankfully the poster does not consist of a full length body shot. The amount of empty space on the poster would seem to indicate that not enough achievements exist to meet the candidate’s ambition.
I would be a fan of the European poster box used in many places on the continent to publicise public events. Build them and people will come. However such a culture shift is not going to occur before May 24. Nor can we bring in appropriate regulations to bring sanity to the system before then.
I think it is at least worth stimulating a debate on how such regulations might work. First limit the number of posters that can be used by each candidate. This election I’m using one hundred posters. I don’t understand how many more than that would be needed.
Secondly regulations could signify a minimum distance between posters of any candidates, or repetition of posters of a single candidate. Say one hundred and two hundred metres respectively.
Finally there should an onus on candidates and their campaigns, to identify where their posters have been placed. This would perform a protection for candidates from one of the nastier aspects of election campaigns.
Often posters get moved, by nefarious persons, to unknown locations, so litter fines get imposed on those unaware their posters had been removed.
Nasty business politics. Not that I want to be seen as a poster child for any of this.
Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator. His column appears here every Thursday. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle
Do you mean this one ? pic.twitter.com/uFWxC7gC5q
— Gerard (@downgerd) April 25, 2019