Almost every day, I am seeing reports that election posters are being taken off lamp posts …stolen. To some extent, all parties are victims of this crime. It happens mostly when a Party crosses into alien territory or puts up a poster in “shared space”.
But it has to be said that a lot of stolen SDLP and Sinn Féin posters end up on loyalist bonfires in July.
But the removal of posters…the theft of posters …is an attack on the democratic process and it can be a form of intimidation. There is possibly some evidence that some of it is just hooliganism.
Either way, we have legislation to protect the Environment. Posters can not be put up “too early”. And political parties can be fined if they leave them up too long after an Election. While most political parties factor in that posters will be stolen…there seems to be a convention that there is two harvests of posters….the early ones will be removed but a second crop will appear within a few days of an Election.
I think PSNI need to be more pro-active. The Democratic Process deserves more support. If we believe that even those who disagree with us are doing a public service by putting their names and faces forward, then their posters deserve more protection.
There is maybe another side. There is such a thing as over-doing it. Too many posters can be a very unsubtle way of marking tribal territory and effectively intimidating.
Normally, only two political parties put up posters in our small village. Last night, many residents were surprised that one Party had put up a lot of posters. The general opinion was “thats overdoing things”. The disapproval was pretty universal but also broad-based.
So this morning most have been taken down…stolen. I honestly dont think the motivation was “political”. It just made the village look tacky. Hmmmm…feel free to call us “snobs”.
But I think reasonable people would say that there should be a balance to these things. Limited number of posters, limited time to display them and their protection under the law.