Posted by: whatkindofweekhasitbeen | February 13, 2011

13th February, 2011

What kind of week has it been? Full of posters.

It’s a curious symptom of election fever, is compulsive postering. For starters, the speed with which they’re put up suggests ninjas are a very politically active section of society, although judging by the speed of take down they get jaded very quickly. The other strange thing about postering is that very few people actually like them, or at very least they get sick of them very quickly, yet at the same time a candidate who doesn’t poster profusely isn’t taken all that seriously. But, maligned though they are, they do tell a story.

Case in point: on the Raphoe to Lifford road a mere couple of weeks ago during the Donegal South West bye-election the whole strip was festooned with Frank McBrearty pictures, and for a while the Finn Valley look liked it might have a new local don. Now, following Frank’s unceremonious whacking in the bye-election and the various horse heads of woe his campaign has suffered since, that road is a much less red and white place. In fact, Frank posters have only started going up anywhere relatively recently. Still though, it could be worse: three years ago the Raphoe to Lifford road had a massive “CONGRATULATIONS MARY” poster following Mary Coughlan’s elevation to Tánaiste. The only things you’re likely to see round these parts with Mary’s face it on it this weather are effigies.

Up the road a bit and towards Letterkenny, Fianna Fáil are only starting to get their battered, reticent machine in gear now, the youthful visage of Charlie McConalogue popping up but only in selected areas. Had Dessie Larkin (Letterkenny native and the rarest beast in the land: a Fianna Fáiler people actually like) been running with him, you would have seen so many posters of Dessie that driving past them could hypnotise you. But controversially he was left off the ticket, and now Fianna Fáil, who once held all three seats in the constituency, are pinning all their hopes in a young charger not very well known beyond his home area. Like I said, posters tell their own story.

One of the things I really do like about posters is that it makes journeys on public transport a bit more entertaining. The trip to Dublin for instance takes you through 10 constituencies, which gives you plenty of different faces to gawk at listlessly out the window. One of the most visible faces in the drive-over counties is John McGuirk, an independent candidate in Cavan Monaghan. He’s just one of the unprecedented number of indies running this time who’ve decided that putting your name on the ballot is one guaranteed way of being able to vote for someone you like. But instead of just being a series of wall-to-wall independent candidates, a lot of them are involved in a confusing tangle of alliances that closer resembles the evolution of a sixties rock group.

Some of them dedicated themselves first to The Brotherhood Of Shane Ross, patron saint of the technical independent group, which overlapped emphatically with the Independent Alliance For Change, which was then subsumed by the New Vision collective. Fleetwood McGuirk was/is involved in all these various concerns. Not only that, but he’s also associated with the National Forum, a think-tank that was initially known as the National Alliance before they realised that an American white supremacist group of that name has been operating since the mid seventies. They then changed the name to the National Forum, because there’s never been a white supremacist group with the initials “NF”. Incidentally, the New Vision group isn’t to be confused with Fís Nua (“New Vision” in the Irish language), who are a different group altogether. Amusingly, John McGuirk is a PR consultant. Unless his message is “I haven’t the faintest idea what I’m doing” he isn’t getting it across very well, but at least his myriad posters are confusion free.

But it’s when you touch down in Dublin that the posters get really interesting. While trekking the whole of Donegal would get you two a mere sets of posters, the shortest of walks in the fair city opens up a cornucopia of different candidatures to peruse.  Going from Busaras to Heuston Station, about a half hour’s straightline dander, takes you from Dublin Central to Dublin South Central, while crossing O’Connell Bridge takes you into the venerable Dublin South East. Dublin South East is a truly national constituency: within its’ boundaries lies Trinity College, Grafton Street, Stephen’s Green, the Olympia Theatre, Dublin Castle, Landsdowne Road, RTE, and the Dáil itself. As such, a great deal of lampposts therein are dedicated not to the constituency candidates but the party leaders: Gilmore trying to look purposeful, Kenny trying to not look awkward, and Martin effortlessly looking like emotional former Foreign Affairs Minister Gerry Collins. Collins is best known for his teary appeal to Albert Reynolds not to heave Charles Haughey from leadership, fearing it would “burst the party”. I doubt it’s a look he chose deliberately.

Another leader, John Gormley, is also a sitting TD for the area, although he has a surprising number of them about the place given he’s a former Green Minister for the Environment. More surprising still, his posters are a weird shade of magenta. Talk about ditching your roots.  Elsewhere less established candidates had to think strategically to get themselves spotted.  Hip-to-the-groove muso Dylan Haskins is extremely prominent in and around the Trinity College and Temple Bar areas, while financial analyst Paul Sommerville appears to have cornered the  market at the Bank of Ireland on Stephen’s Green and their HQ down the road, as well as AIB high command in Ballsbridge and the Revenue office on Landsdowne Road. 

Over the years Dublin South East has produced Taoisigh and Ministers to beat the band, but the heavy hitters of the constituency were no match for the appallingly bad weather, which accounted for lumps being taken out of a lot of the candidates’ likenesses. I saw poor Chris Andrews face down in the wet leaves on Baggot Street having fallen off his nearby pole. Down at the RDS, a Gilmore poster split down the middle was relentlessly slapping a helpless Lucinda Creighton just below him. It’s a grizzly business, elections.

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Responses

  1. “who’ve decided that putting your name on the ballot is one guaranteed way of being able to vote for someone you like”

    Brilliant, Paddy, brilliant. 🙂


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