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poster pin ups

Here's what our political parties have spent on election posters *

The ones that would tell us that is. asked all parties in the general election what their poster budget amounted to – here’s what we found out.

4/2/2016 General Election Campaigns Starts Mark Stedman / Mark Stedman / /

THEY’RE THE BANE of many people’s lives, an eyesore for many. For others, election posters go hand in hand with the excitement associated with a general election, lending colour to the country as voters gear up to vote in a new government.

But how much do they cost? has run the numbers on what the various political parties have spent on the eye-candy adorning every telephone poll, lamp-post, and bus stop in the land.

We asked each party running for office what their poster-budget was.

Three parties kept their figures to themselves – Fine Gael declined to comment, Sinn Féin hadn’t replied at time of publication, and Fianna Fáil directed us to the Standards in Public Office commission (SIPO)
It should be noted that SIPO never knows what a party has spent in elections until eight weeks afterwards.
The figures for all other parties questioned are below.

21/5/2014. Elections Campaigns Posters Eamonn Farrell / Eamonn Farrell / /

The parties have used a myriad different printing sources, with common price per poster ranging from €4.50 to €6. As a mean we’ve taken €5.25 per poster as a general cost in cases where the exact figure was not specified.

Most of these expenses can be claimed back for successful candidates and for those who are unsuccessful but who achieve one quarter of the quota in their constituency.

As these figures were compiled prior to the election being called, all parties claimed that their posters would be going up as soon as it was “legal” to do so. That has proved to not entirely be the case as we’ve seen this week.

Independents and smaller parties have been left out of this analysis, although a query was put to the Independent Alliance, which was not answered.

The figures:

Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, and Sinn Féin

The bold boys first – these are the three parties from whom no response could be elicited. We can tell you what they spent in the last election however using SIPO figures, and a crude estimate of sorts can be gained using those figures as a proxy. This is far from an exact science mind you.

4/2/2016 General Election Campaigns Starts Mark Stedman / Mark Stedman / /

Coalition leaders Fine Gael were the only party who declined to comment on our query outright. In 2011 the party put forward 104 candidates with an overall poster spend of €178,128 per SIPO records. This time round they’ve put forward 88 candidates. Assuming that all things were equal their spend this time out would be €150,724, or €1,713 per candidate.

Micheál Martin’s Fianna Fáil assured us their records would be submitted to SIPO, but those figures won’t be available for almost three months.  In 2011 the party put forward 75 candidates with an overall spend of €204,114 per SIPO, easily the highest sum of any party during that election. In 2016 Fianna Fáil will field 71 candidates. Using 2011 as a base their spend this time out would be €193,228, or €2,722 per candidate.

Fianna Fáil’s printer of choice is Print and Display, while their election mantra is “an Ireland for all”.

15/5/2014. Sinn Fein Elections Campaigns Sam Boal / Sam Boal / /

In 2011 Sinn Féin put forward 41 candidates for the election, with an overall poster spend of €19,514 per SIPO records. This year they’ve put forward 50 candidates. Using their 2011 precedents as a proxy, therefore, their spend for 2016 would be €23,798, or €476 per candidate. This does seem a little low however.

“Better off with Sinn Féin” is the party’s campaign motto.


“The overall theme of our campaign is “standing up for Ireland’s future,” a spokesperson for the junior coalition partner told us.

Our posters are part of that campaign.


Labour were unable to provide individual costings (although an estimate of the number of posters was given) so the below figures are estimates. Their costs vastly outstrip those of the smaller parties detailed below.

  • No of candidates – 36
  • Posters – An estimated 50,000, or an average of 1,389 per candidate
  • Cost Estimate – An estimated €262,500, €7,292 per candidate
  • Printer – Smurfit Kappa Display


Renua’s political campaign is being entirely privately funded, so certain constraints from a posters point of view may not apply. Lucinda Creighton’s team are running 26 candidates in the election.

28/10/2015. Renua Ireland Election Campaigns Posters Sam Boal / Sam Boal / /

  • No of candidates – 26
  • Posters – 15,000 estimated, 577 each
  • Cost Estimate – €78,750, €3,029 per candidate
  • Printer – McGowan’s Print, Poppintree, Dublin

The general theme of Renua’s poster campaign is “rewarding work, rebuilding trust”.

Social Democrats

The new party of Stephen Donnelly, Catherine Murphy and Róisín Shortall is set to run 14 candidates in the upcoming election.

  • No of candidates – 14
  • Posters – 10,000 estimated, so 714 each
  • Cost Estimate – €52,500, €3,749 per candidate
  • Printer – Unknown

A Social Democrats spokesman told us initially that poster allocation had been devolved to the individual candidates, with the final figure itself coming from sitting TD Catherine Murphy.

socdems Facebook Facebook

“There is no central party instruction on which areas should be prioritised. It lies within the purview of each candidate to determine what works best for them,” the spokesman said.

As Ireland’s newest political party, broadcast and digital visibility is important to highlight our policies. Posters are a simple and strong visual way to make voters aware of our candidates.

People Before Profit (PBP)

PBP were a little more talkative than most when it came to their poster campaign, though their estimated number of posters was a little more gray – between 400 and 700 per candidate (we’ve taken the mean of 550 for the purpose of these figures).

“If there was a limit on the number of posters and everyone obeyed that, and if everyone had equal access to the media, that would be a better system,” said party spokesman Kieran Allen.

pbp3 Facebook Facebook

Unfortunately, money buys you greater access. We’ve been told that if we pay for ads we’ll get more coverage, the media turns politics into a money game.
In an ideal world we would prefer that a system not favour any side, and then we could conceive not putting up so many posters, but it’s about name recognition, our experience is that where candidates have not put them up they just don’t get their name about.
  • No of candidates – 18
  • Posters – An estimated 9,900, or 550 each
  • Cost Estimate – €51,975, €2,888 per candidate
  • Printer – Screen Print

Anti Austerity Alliance (AAA)

The AAA were similar to their running mates PBP with regard to the forthcoming nature of their answers.

“The general theme of our posters is the lack of a recovery for ordinary people – ‘demand real change – not their spare change’,” a party spokesman told us.

Other issues which feature are a boycott of water charges and a campaign to repeal the eighth amendment to the Constitution.

aaa Facebook Facebook

Certain constituencies where we have candidates who are sitting TDs (Dublin West and Dublin South West) or who are seriously in contention to win seats have a higher number of posters than some other areas.
  • No of candidates – 13
  • Posters – 8,150, or an average of 627 each
  • Cost Estimate – An estimated €47,000, €3,615 per candidate
  • Printer – Unknown

Green Party

As you might imagine, the party campaigning on an environmental platform is a little more worried about the impact of its posters than most. As such, the Greens’ response to our queries were a little cagey.

greens Facebook Facebook

“The Green Party are reusing posters from previous elections and have commissioned an additional 4,000 at an average cost of €4.75 each,” a spokesman told us.

We’ve opted for a narrow poster, based on the design used for the European and local elections in 2014.
  • No of candidates – 40
  • Posters – 4,000 new posters, 100 each
  • Cost Estimate – €19,000, €475 per candidate
  • Printer – Unknown

Read: The phantom €2 billion: How everyone except Sinn Féin got the maths wrong

Read: FactCheck: Were 135,000 new jobs really gained under Fine Gael?

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