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'Negative tactics': Pro-choice group anger as "repeal8th.ie" redirects to pro-life website

The URL repealeight.ie brings users to a pro-choice website but repealeighth.ie is a pro-life site.

THE COALITION TO Repeal the Eighth Amendment has said that it is considering making a formal complaint over a set of website domain names featuring variants of the words “repeal” and “eighth” and which redirect to a pro-life site.

Three domains, http://repeal8.iehttp://repeal8th.ie, and http://repealeighth.ie actually send you to http://thisismylife.ie, which offers information from a pro-life perspective.

Ailbhe Smyth, convenor of the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment told TheJournal.ie that the registration of “disingenuous domain names in an attempt to mislead public opinion” was an example of “negative tactics”.

Cora Sherlock, from the Pro Life Campaign, however, said that she finds it a “little bizarre how some people are spending time challenging this and even lodging complaints about it”,

In a response to a query from TheJournal.ie, Ireland’s Domain Registry (IEDR) said it is “satisfied that the registration of the domains is in compliance with the terms and conditions of the .ie registration and naming policy”.

It also said that it had received a number of “queries” about the domain names, which is reflected by social media posts by a number of people who said they’d complained to the IEDR about the issue.

pro life site The pro-life site that is redirected to Source: http://thisismylife.ie/

eighth website The site for the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth campaign. Source: https://www.repealeight.ie/

Confusion

Those three domain names that redirect to the pro-life site bear a similarity to the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment’s official website which is https://www.repealeight.ie/.

The most similar ones are repealeight.ie (the pro-choice one) and repealeighth.ie (which redirects to the pro-life site).

When you look up the registering of the names, it shows that the one from the coalition itself was registered by Ailbhe Smyth, while the ones that redirect to the pro-life side were registered under the name Katie Murray.

repealeight

repealeighth

Sherlock said: “The domain names in question are registered by people closely involved with the pro-life movement.  As is evident, they are intended as a source of information about what repeal of the Eighth Amendment would mean.

No-one has the monopoly on the word “repeal” and how it can be used. I noticed that the complaint that was made to the IEDR was rejected.

Sherlock also pointed to the website abortion.ie which redirects to the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, and questioned whether the ”sole motivation” of the controversy over the Eighth domains was “to misrepresent the intention of some pro-life individuals”.

Smyth, however, said: “It is disheartening to see groups attempting to mislead and manipulate public opinion.”

She added that registering the domains in this manner was “disrespectful to the general public and to the huge amount of work done by the Citizens’ Assembly and the Joint Oireachtas Committee”.

Compliance

The IEDR did say that these domains were in compliance with its registration and naming policy.

Its policy, however, does include the following line:

Where the proposed name is in the opinion of the naming authority likely to lead to confusion, or is likely to be subject to an administrative proceeding under the Dispute Resolution Policy, another name shall be chosen.

It also says: “Where the domain name relates to a proposed non-commercial project, information showing that the applicant has invested significant time, effort, or resources in a project that directly relates to the proposed domain name.”

It is understood that the domains were registered under Katie Murray in July 2016, well in advance of any referendum on the Eighth Amendment, but also at a time when the “repeal” slogan had become widespread among pro-choice supporters.

Smyth said that the Coalition was considering making a formal complaint to the IEDR over this effort to “mislead” the public.

Ongoing debate

The furore over these websites comes before an expected announcement from the government on a date and wording of an upcoming referendum on the Eighth Amendment.

Over the past two weeks, TDs both in favour and against repealing the Eighth have made impassioned speeches on the topic in the Dáil.

It came after  a three-month process where 21 deputies and senators examined the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly on the issue, and listened to evidence from expert legal and medical practitioners.

You can read the full report here, and key points here. It recommends legal abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy without restriction; repealing the Eighth Amendment; and for the government to legislate for abortion.

Some who are pro-life now find themselves wanting the Eighth to be repealed. Some no longer call themselves pro-life. Others feel extremely strongly about their pro-life views, and gave impassioned speeches as to why.

Fianna Fáil leader Michéal Martin, for example, said he’d changed his mind, and was now backing the removal of the Eighth Amendment.

Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar, however, has yet to indicate his stance on the issue while a clear indication from government on the wording of the referendum and potential legislation to follow is expected in the coming weeks.

According to the latest Irish times/MRBI opinion poll published just yesterday, 56% of people said they would vote for a change in the constitution so that the government can legislate for abortion up to 12 weeks.

Read: Leo Varadkar still won’t say how he’ll campaign in an abortion referendum

Read: ‘Households will be split’ – Leading Fianna Fáil TD doesn’t back his leader on abortion

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Sean Murray

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