Dan Boyle: Bill No Posts


From top: Local and European election posters on Merrion Street, Dublin 2 yesterday; Dan Boyle

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



Sponsored Link

54 thoughts on “Dan Boyle: Bill No Posts

  1. Catherine costelloe

    How much for a poster , Dan? I think they could be much more fun , a cheerful , uplifting poster to the area canvassed!

        1. Rob_G

          I’m not crazy about the use of posters, but democracy is important, elections are important. Posters are an important part of giving smaller parties/new candidates name recognition (there is research to support this); if posters were banned tomorrow, it would be the benefit of larger parties, at the expense of niche parties/independents.

          I’m sure that all of the posters generated by these elections will be equivalent to a small percentage of all the single-use plastics used in Ireland over the course of a single day; so let’s put a tax on (useless) plastic bottles, rather than banning (important) election posters.

          1. Frank

            Those election posters are not ‘important’. They are toxic.

            I agree with you “all of the posters generated by these elections will be equivalent to a small percentage of all the single-use plastics” – but the point is, a small percentage of something toxic is still toxic.
            It’s not ok.

          2. Rob_G

            Compared to all the other uses of single-use packaging, I would consider democracy to be very important.

          3. Frank

            So our ‘democracy’ is dependant on toxic plastic election posters??? I didn’t realise it was so fragile.
            MORE ELECTION POSTERS. Let the print machines run through the night! Our very democracy depends on it. No less, it is indeed the fuel for our democracy. Feed this fire for it is that which warms us and repels the tyrant.

          4. Nigel

            You’re monomaniacally basing your assessment of the candidate on the poster issue, so apparently yes.

          5. Rob_G


            It is also dependent on people driving around in cars, trees being chopped down to produce leaflets, servers hosting websites using electricity, and many other things that are bad for the environment.

            All of these things combined count for a tiny, tiny fraction of Ireland’s annual emissions, however, and everyone (apart from you) agrees that its worth if for the sake of democracy.

          6. Frank

            Rob – democracy is not dependant on toxic election posters.

            Nigel – I’m not ‘monomaniacally basing my assessment of the candidate on the poster issue’. My assessment of this candidate (Dan Boyle) has less to do with his use of toxic plastic posters and more an assessment of his promise of change but using the instruments of the status quo. No ideas, no viable alternatives. No thanks

          7. Rob_G

            Mental – you may as well not vote for him on the basis that he sometimes uses plastic pens…

          8. Nigel

            This is a pure ‘you claim to want to change society but I see you live in soceity’ argument. Dumb as a bag of hammers.

          9. Frank

            Rob & Nigel – name calling is for the bully in the yard. I’d prefer not to be called mental or dumb.
            This type of bulling should be moderated and the likes of you barred from the site.

            If the both of you can only play the man and not the ball I have no further want to continue with your childish nonsense. Good day

          10. ReproBertie

            Frank – “Rob & Nigel – name calling is for the bully in the yard.”
            Also Frank but before anyone started name calling – “Nit”

          11. Frank

            I didn’t call anyone ‘nit’

            ah I see it. I was supposed to type ‘not’. Apologies for that.

            Name calling is an argument lost. Rob & Nigel fell down that pit. Goodbye

          12. Rob_G

            I personally not especiaally bothered if I was called a ‘nit’ or not (or nit), but I appreciate your concern, Bertie, and take you at your word on the typo, Frank.

            For the record, I wasn’t referring to you as ‘mental’, merely your ideas, and I 100% stand by this assessment – you seem that to be aruging that anyone running for election on any sort of green platform needs to lead a 100% plastic-free life; this is impossible.

          13. Frank

            rob. I simply did not say ‘anyone on a green platform should live 100% plastic free’. I did say that Dan Boyle who is/was a green and is running on a ‘I’m going to change things’ platform. should not be using toxic (in every respect) plastic posters. that’s not a ‘mental’ idea, it’s not a ‘dumb’ idea. that is a reality.
            there is the beginning of a climate revolution happening in London right now. we are told we have 11 years to completely change our attitudes to fossil fuels and plastic.
            if you think it’s ok for a green candidate or any candidate to use toxic plastic signage to electioneer you are wrong. emphatically wrong.
            plastic is a wonderful live saving material in medicine, biochemistry etc. not in advertising lazy politicians. those days are gone.

  2. $hifty

    After the abortion referendum, the lampposts in our locality were covered in plastic ties as the posters were torn down without cutting them, leaving them behind. I will be taking photos this time around, before and after shots, and tweeting any one who looks like they’ve left them behind. They should be banned altogether.

  3. Zaccone

    A small amount of posters to raise awareness is fine. Plastering every single lamp post in the country as we have now is just pointless, wasteful, overkill.

    Ireland should have small designated “posters allowed” zones in each constituency where all the candidates can put up an equal amount of posters.

  4. Frank

    If you just elect Dan he’ll bring in all the necessary regulations concerning nasty election posters.
    Like he did last time.

    It’s ok for Dan and other Greens to use use election posters…
    because everyone else is.
    because he’s only going to use 100.
    because it’s cheap marketing.

    This is someone who wants to be elected to public office. Who is, was a Green. Who cares about the environment and future generations. Twaddle. This is someone that simply wants to be elected. At any cost.

    His like all other election posters out there are printed on Corri board – polypropylene plastic. Is it safe? – the chemicals used in it’s manufacture – butane, benzene and acetate are toxic and carcinogenic.

    The cable ties – again tough polypropylene plastic. – butane, benzene and acetate are toxic and carcinogenic. Manufactured in gigantic quantities in China or India. More than likely in appalling conditions by children.

    The ink used to print the plastic – solvent based ink. Toxic to aquatic life. irreversibly.

    The solvent used to clean up the ink after printing. Toxic to both animal and human life.

    It’s grand though because it all just gets washed out to sea where no one can see it.

    Elected. At any cost.

    1. Nigel

      Someone running for election wants to be elected and is obliged to employ the current means of getting elected. My God. The inanity.

      1. Frank

        Elected. At any cost.
        That cost being our environment, our health and our childrens health.

        He is not ‘obliged to employ the current means of getting elected’.
        He is standing on a platform of change. He is obliged to be that change if he’s to be believed.
        Otherwise, it’s a shill.

        1. Rob_G

          Unless you are a childless vegan, who doesn’t fly in airplanes and doesn’t buy any single-use packaging in their life, ever, you are being a hypocrite.

          1. Frank

            I’m not trying to get elected to public office on a platform of change.
            Play the ball Rob.

          2. Rob_G

            No, but you are expecting others to achieve impossibly high standards that you have no interest in holding yourself. It’s like a politician is campaigning on reducing spending, but you are accusing them of being willfully extravagant for not subsisting on a diet of gruel

        2. Nigel

          ‘Uses posters in election campaign’ is possibly the dumbest standard for assessing a candidate I’ve ever heard. It’s not just dumb, it’s palpably forced, you’d do the same straining to codemn him for ‘wearing shoes’ or ‘exhaling carbon dioxide.’

          1. Frank

            The polypropylene posters are toxic.
            The ink is toxic.
            The solvent used to clean up after the printing is toxic.
            The cable ties are toxic.

            Dan Boyle – I will change things… not now, but soon.

            Is there some part of that you don’t understand Nigel, Rob?

          2. Nigel

            Nobody who really cares about these things would balk at having to make the compromise of using them absent a viable alternative, within reason.

          3. Frank

            I expect ‘viable alternatives’ from these people Nigel. Why on earth would you vote for someone with none?

          4. Frank

            I can’t understand what you’re trying to say Nigel and your constant name calling is really rude.

          5. Nigel

            Nobody who wants broad societal change is going to get hung up on a few posters. They just aren’t. This is bad faith concern trolling.

  5. eoin

    Dan, my friend, maybe you can answer the question about defacing election posters. It’s not a criminal offence is it? More of a civil matter for which there’s an almost impossible burden of proof if you’re seeking damages? And those damages would be how much per poster, like? Also, with these new plasticky posters, can you recommend a good waterproof, extra thick marker?

        1. Rob_G

          Incorrect – just because it does always result in a criminal prosecution makes it no less a crime. A vague pull-quote from a legal professional referring to a specific instance does not change that,

  6. Termagant

    That very very extremely long poster is well clever and sneaky and a sign that someone should under no circumstances be granted a position of authority

Comments are closed.

Sponsored Link