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Posters, posters everywhere, where’s the politics? April 24, 2007

Posted by franklittle in Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Irish Election 2007, Irish Labour Party, Irish Politics, media, Progressive Democrats, Sinn Féin.

As part of a vaguely pointless bit of experimentation, I decided to keep track of the election posters, by which I mean the commercial posters on walls and bus shelters, on the bus into work from Inchicore to the City Centre yesterday. I was later obliged to take the bus out to Marino in the afternoon and did the same.

Starting right on the road my flat complex is located, we have a massive Fine Gael billboard promising 2,300 new hospital beds. As I come onto the main road, there’s a Fianna Fáil ‘Next Step’ billboard and a small Ad space for local Labour candidate Eric Byrne. Onto the bus and there’s Mary Upton smiling at me from behind the bus driver’s compartment.

On the way into work, we pass a Catherine Byrne/Anne Marie Martin of Fine Gael bus shelter, and another Fianna Fáil billboard. There might have been more but it was morning rush hour and vision of anything other than commuters was fairly restricted. And into the City Centre where we pass another Fianna Fáil billboard.

Off to Marino in the afternoon and we pass a small size, Cyprian Brady ad in Five Lamps, same size and shape as the Eric Byrne one in Inchicore, and then a massive North Koreanesque Cyprian banner hanging off the scaffolding at a construction site on the North Strand. Into Fairview, and Ivor Callely appears at a bus shelter with sleeves rolled up and tie loosened. And then, back to Fine Gael, with a bus shelter ad promising free health insurance for children under the age of 16.

We pass a disused commercial unit with Derek McDowell posters on it, which I presume is going to be an office and so probably doesn’t count, and then, the final poster of the day, a Fine Gael bus shelter ad promising 2,000 new Gardaí.

Not counting the McDowell posters, this is 12 commercial outdoor advertisements, none of which the political parties in question have to report at the end of the election. Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael predominated, with a couple of Labour contributions. Nothing from Sinn Féin, Greens or the PDs, though in the last case they’re not really PD target seats, and I have seen Sinn Féin bus ads. I should add at this point that there’s a brand new Frank McNamara of the PDs poster on the LUAS line in from Inchicore I saw this morning where he looks like an eccentric child molester. Hardly what they were going for.

So how much is this going to cost? Well, Medialive provide outdoor advertising rates here. To be honest, they could have made it easier to follow, but a good ball-park estimate is a fortnight, minimum of 150 for the whole country, with Adshel, will set you back 73,500 Euros, not counting the cost of printing the posters. The big massive billboards, rates with JCDecaux, have you into multiple tens of thousands very, very quickly.

I’m concentrating on outdoor advertising here, but anyone picking up a copy of the Northside People, or any other local paper, will be familiar with the amount of advertising in them from candidates. Full rate cards are available on medialive, same link as above, but to give people a ballpark figure to work from, a full page in the Southside People will cost you 4,320 Euros, not counting VAT, and a colour half-page in a paid for paper, like the Fingal Independent for example, will set you back 1,650 Euros. Obviously, for big spenders there would be bulk discounts, but it gives people an idea of the amount of money being spent before the election.

Vincent Browne has some good points on it here , though I don’t necessarily agree with the notion that all parties should be state-funded and only state-funded. A contrary viewpoint is put forward by this chap at the Semper Idem blog , which I link to for the sake of debate. I think he woefully underestimates the impact of money in elections and on political parties.

And finally, worth noting that except for the Fine Gael posters, which outline specific commitments, there’s not an ounce of politics in any of the posters.


1. Pidge - April 24, 2007

John Bailey in DL is “Putting People First”.

I thought it was an interesting policy departure. Typically parties put cats and small piece of coloured card first.


2. franklittle - April 24, 2007


Profit Before People went down like a lead balloon at the SWP conference where they decided the name for the organisation that isn’t a front organisation of theirs.


3. simon - April 24, 2007

Funnily enough I agree with browne http://www.irishelection.com/10/ban-all-donations/


4. WorldbyStorm - April 24, 2007

I’m not a 100% against state funding. Although it does raise paradoxes.

Your final point franklittle says it all really.


5. franklittle - April 24, 2007

I’m not oppose to state funding, and indeed all of the parties receive some limited form of state funding. I do disagree with the notion that ALL funding should be state funded. As a result of this, smaller parties, like my good friends in the SWP for example, would not be able to raise money as they would hardly be entitled to state funds.

Also, what the state giveth, the state can take away. Legislation could be passed setting political or legal requirements for political parties that one or the other might not meet. Don’t support X? Sorry mate, if you don’t support X you’re not entitled to be treated as a political party.


6. WorldbyStorm - April 24, 2007

Sorry, franklittle, didn’t mean to imply that you did, and I agree with you there are problems with it. I just think that there are ways that this could progress to make a more level playing field. One poster you didn’t mention is Patricia McKenna’s “A Luas for North Dublin (or it might have been Dublin Central) – It’s Time” poster off Dorset Street. I was highly entertained to see that while I was out this evening.


7. ejh - April 26, 2007

” Typically parties put cats and small piece of coloured card first.”

I’d always vote for a party that put cats first, but the prices of card can look after themselves.

I read a good comment once to the effect that a political slogan (or statement) is meaningless unless you can envisage somebnody saying the opposite: e.g. Al Gore’s “I am for the people” which means nothing.


8. John Carroll - May 2, 2007

A contrary viewpoint is put forward by this chap at the Semper Idem blog , which I link to for the sake of debate. I think he woefully underestimates the impact of money in elections and on political parties.

Being that chap from Semper Idem, I would take issue with your overview of my piece. My argument is not that money doesn’t skew elections, but that a wide number of ‘unfair’ things do – and to pretend that money is the only real factor which does is a bit simplistic.

Some candidates will have a massive profile prior to entering politics by dint of sporting success or a media position – or in rural constituencies will have big familial connections. That is as unfair in my book as a candidate using advertising to build up name recognition. If I decide to run for election & say George Lee does – George Lee will be known by all voters. What is wrong with me spending money trying to get my name out there and letting people know who I am?

In a similar vein, certain groups in society can canvass more than others such as students. Lets create a hypothetical situation – a young female student has in previous election canvassed for days upon days for her local TD. However in the next election she is married and has kids, and a good income. She would like to make the same contribution as she did previously but cannot because of the time requirements at home, working and commuting. So she cannot head out and do the same – but if she made a cash contribution to the campaign to get someone in do leaflet dropping or postering or whatever, that is considered wrong.

My argument is not that there should be a spending free for all, but not to reduce things to the idea where spending is the only thing which gives candidates an unfair advantage as Vincent Browne does.


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