THE WEBSITE of the Democratic Unionist Party was this evening hacked by a self-professed “Irish language activist”, demonstrating against the party’s “nonsensical attitude” to the Irish language.
The websites of two of the party’s most prominent members – Northern Ireland’s First Minister, Peter Robinson, and former UUP member Jeffrey Donaldson – were also attacked, and replaced by Irish-language messages.
The hacker – who is based in Derry, and uses the online pseudonym ‘Hector O’Hackatdawn’, apparently inspired by the 2fm breakfast DJ – claimed responsibility for the attacks, which saw the DUP website injected with a fraudulent, pro-Irish news story, while the personal websites of Robinson and Donaldson were replaced with single-page professions of support for the North’s divisive Irish Language Act.
“Athbhliain faoi mhaise daoibh go léir”, or ‘Happy new year to you all’, opened the fake DUP news story - since deleted from the website, which was temporarily taken offline while the story was removed.
The article went on to ‘apologise’ for the “levels of homophobia that exist deep within the ranks of the DUP”, and went on to state that the party had “decided to end our childish and archaic mindset towards the Irish language”.
Screen grabs of the other websites, caught and posted by Northern Ireland blog Slugger O’Toole, showed that both had been replaced by a message featuring the image of Peter Robinson, and reading, “As Gaeilge Anois! Is mise Peadar Robison, agus tugaim tacaíocht don Acht na Gaeilge” (‘In Irish now! I am Peter Robinson and I support the Irish Language Act’).
‘We will wait no longer’
Despite the St Andrews’ agreement – signed by the DUP in 2006 – outlining that the Northern Assembly would pass an Irish Language Act giving the Irish language equal status in Northern Ireland, the DUP has resisted the introduction of such a bill thus far.
“The British & Irish Government made an agreement – [but] it is not being fulfilled,” the hacker wrote on Twitter after the sites had been taken offline. “We will wait no longer for Irish language legislation.”
He added that “no real damage” was done to the DUP website, and that he had merely used a “simple redirect” to send the content elsewhere. He further added that he was not involved in the attacks on the Fine Gael website.
Both pages were signed off from ‘Hector’ with the line, ‘Tír gan teanga, tír gan anam’ – a famous proverb by Irish 1916 leader Padraig Pearse, meaning ‘a country without a language is a country without a soul’.
Ironically – given how the Fine Gael website was targeted last week, with its overseas hosting an apparent motive, and the DUP’s strong Unionist agenda - all three of the affected websites are hosted by the same company in Germany.
The SDLP’s website, however, is hosted in Ireland, while the site of the UUP is hosted within the United Kingdom.
As TheJournal.ie reported last week, Sinn Féin’s website is hosted in Pittsburgh.