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Youth Defence says website hack was “illegal and utterly pointless”

The Youth Defence website has been replaced by a text which says it is blowing the lid on the background of the anti-abortion group.

A Youth Defence billboard outside the Dáil
A Youth Defence billboard outside the Dáil
Image: Sam Boal

Updated 12.45

ANTI-ABORTION CAMPAIGN GROUP Youth Defence has said the hacking of its website this morning was “illegal and utterly pointless”.

In a statement, spokesperson Clare Molloy said the hacking, which briefly included a list of email addresses of subscribers to Youth Defence newsletters before it was removed,  breached the privacy of people on both sides of the debate.

Molloy said the incident has been reported to the Gardaí and that it had been a breach of the Data Protection Act.

The group’s website YouthDefence.ie was replaced by a 2,456 word piece which say it was “blowing the lid” on the background of the group. “Youth Defence is not what you think it is,” the text read.

The page described the site as a “hate-filled truth-distorting website”.

The text raised questions about the funding of the organisation and the tactics used by the group. The hacked page briefly contained a link to more than 5,600 email addresses which it said were subscribers to Youth Defence’s newsletter. The link was deleted shortly after the hack went live.

It is not clear who carried out the hacking: no individual or group has claimed responsibility.

“No doubt a great deal of effort was expanded on something that is easily rectified and has zero impact on our campaign,” said Clare Molloy.

The hacked page has disappeared as of this afternoon but the full site has not yet gone back online. A message on the page says the website is “either experiencing problems, or [...] undergoing routine maintenance.”

Youth Defence describes itself as “Ireland’s most active pro-life organisation” and has been criticised for the graphic nature of its poster campaign in the run-up to the vote on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill.

Read: Thousands take to Dublin streets over proposed abortion legislation >

Read: Billboard company discontinues Youth Defence campaign after Rape Crisis Centre incident >

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