Billboard backlash

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The Irish Examiner poster that caused offence in Limerick last week.
The Irish Examiner poster that caused offence in Limerick last week.

A BILLBOARD advertisement by The Irish Examiner newspaper depicting Limerick as a crime scene provoked fury this week.

Erected at Colbert Station, it was on display only for a few hours before being torn down.

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The billboard showed a scene of King John’s Castle overlooking the Shannon with yellow crime scene tape across the whole image, and a tagline asking ‘Just how safe is Limerick?’

Shopkeepers have called for a boycott of the newspaper while hours of broadcasting time and pages of newsprint have been dedicated to the topic over the last few days. But surely this is exactly what the Examiner spin people want.

Are we not just feeding the monster?

Speaking on Limerick’s Live 95FM, UL journalism lecturer Tom Felle said: “It’s quite simply a marketing ploy by the Examiner, and it’s working. I wonder will it backfire? It’s a scandalous attempt to piggy-back on the reputation of Limerick..quite simply, it’s a dumb advert. This only works if you get annoyed. The more you talk about it, the more this ad becomes successful,”

The Limerick billboard is part of a Munster-wide campaign aimed at promoting a national investigation into crime in Ireland that also shows scenes of Cork, Tipperary, Waterford, Kerry and Clare.

So why are Shannonsiders getting so upset while our neighbours remain unperplexed? Do we have an insecurity about our city from past experiences?  Are we, like Irish Examiner editor Tim Vaughan suggested, jumping to the wrong conclusion?

He said the poster campaign was “in no way a victimisation of Limerick” and that he stands over the “overall campaign….Should we treat Limerick differently,” he asked?

Let’s let Limerick’s great sights, attractions, educational standards, festivals, sports and, most of all, its people speak for themselves.

Limerick has finally managed to shake off its ‘Stab City’ image. The next to go should be our insecurities.