The election campaign appears to be heating up in more ways than one, with, according to Solidarity People Before Profit Socialist Party RISE TD (yes, those are all his titles) Paul Murphy, at least two election posters being set alight overnight in Dublin:

There are two questions to be answered here. One is fairly easy to answer, the other is not. The easy one is the question of who could have done such a dastardly thing as to incinerate a perfectly good election poster? The answer is “pretty much any 13 year old with a lighter and nothing better to be at”. Deputy Murphy seems convinced that the attack was carried out by “enemies of democracy”, and in fairness, it is notable how fire-resistant that Sinn Fein poster appears to be by comparison.

Here’s the more important question, though, one that should have us all asking hard questions:

Who called the fire brigade?

It’s a burning poster, not a burning house or a road traffic accident. The blaze could have been extinguished by anybody with a bucket of water, or, if they thought it more serious, a fire extinguisher. Instead, we have the sight of Dublin’s finest standing there, in full uniform and protective gear, half-heartedly directing a limp stream of water at an election poster while some concerned citizen stands off to one side, taking pictures. Pictures which then ended up with Paul Murphy, and got tweeted out as, well, election propaganda.

At the time of writing, People before Profit had not responded to an email query about who summoned the fire brigade to the scene.

This may all seem slightly funny, but if readers will forgive a little moralising, it’s not funny at all. Calling the emergency services out is not something that should be done lightly. At any moment, that fire brigade unit could have been required to attend a serious, life or death situation on the other side of the capital city, and would have been unable to because it was out at the scene of an election poster fire, being photographed for transparent political advantage.

Another obvious question about all of this is how dangerous the fire could have been if it was still burning when the fire brigade got there. Think about it – the time for the call to be received at the station, the firemen to dress in full protective equipment, to travel to the scene of the arson, to unwrap the hose, and to be photographed – that’s got to have taken at least 15 minutes.

And yet, look at that poster. How long can that, possibly, have been burning for? In the very best scenario, the fire brigade would have had to have been called almost at the very moment the fire started. Posters are made of plastic. If they catch fire, they’ll burn reasonably quickly. Whatever socialist party activist saw this fire and rang the fire brigade must have been within seconds of catching whoever started it, right?

Incidentally, People before Profit have, to be charitable, some neck to complain about other people damaging their election posters. If you don’t remember:

“People Before Profit members have called their decision yesterday to take down pro-life posters across Dublin “the action of two individual activists” against “anti-choice zealotry”.

In a subsequently deleted Facebook post, the Trinity branch of the left-wing party said “2 comrades, 1 pair of scissors, 32 vile anti-choice posters surrounding the campus. A successful evening indeed”.”

What comes around, as they say, goes around.

Unless, of course, it’s the fire brigade which doesn’t come around, because it’s attending a political stunt for People before Profit.