BELFAST. Uproar in Northern Ireland as Republican activists rampage across the web, leaving a trail of spam, badly-spelt blog comments and a faint whiff of cheap perfume. ‘A bunch of dirty, sleeveen bogtrotter bastards’ says shady balaclava-wearing thug.
Competition for domain names has always been intense, leading to frequent battles between organisations looking to eke out a presence on the net. But now, in a case which could result in a landmark ruling by a baseball-bat wielding heavy in an illegal kangaroo-court, web commentators fear that a recent spate of domain hijacking could lead to a dangerous escalation of violence in Northern Ireland boardrooms and branding agencies.
The original difficulty arises from the use of the name ira.com, which was registered several years ago by an un-named company trading from the Cayman Islands. The domain name was never used and when the license expired after two years another buyer quickly and quietly entered the fray to snap it up â€“ the â€˜Real IRAâ€™. It didnâ€™t take long for events to turn ugly, with senior IRA commanders commenting that ‘the stupid southern cunts’ would ‘get theirs soon’. Shortly afterwards a Real IRA blog claimed that the Provos were a pack of ‘dinosaurs’ whose ‘time had come and gone’ and that furthermore, provo women were ‘a bunch of fat northern slags’.
Insults aside, websites are now becoming critical tools in the strategy for survival in the post-Good Friday landscape. We decided to explore this further and spoke to some of those at the coal-face.
â€˜Iâ€™ve never seen such bare-faced thievery. Not everâ€™ raged a hooded-figure who granted us an interview in the Stormont car-park. â€˜The greasy fucks stole our name. And this after we’d spent several million quid on market research and defining our new brand. New logos. New strapline. New product portfolio. We we’re all ready for an immediate launch into the new and lucrative eastern-European market. Good numbers out there. The fuckin’ poofs.’
And things could be about to get worse. Word on the ground indicates a massive mobilisation of web-terrorists. The result has been a wave of sectarian Google-bombing, phishing e-mails, spam accounts, discussion board flooding and, most recently, Wikipedia hijacking.
Being at a total loss on this last item, we spoke to a Real IRA marketing executive. â€˜Well basically,â€™ he announced, adjusting his Â£300 Gucci cravat and gold-embossed, diamond-encrusted tie-fastner, â€˜what they do is, they go into the registered Wikipedia entries for our organisation, log-in and then re-write the content to reflect negatively on us and positively on them. It’s viral marketing at its worstâ€™. Other accusations focused on the Real IRA (allegedly) re-writing their Wikipedia entry to claim an older pedigree than the Provos. Worse still is the creation of websites where every single word is a link back to the same site. The result of this is to push the spam website further up in the Google rankings.
The accusations have been followed by counter-accusations, creating a landscape of confusion and metadata-thuggery. ‘At some point we may need to intervene’ said a spokeswoman for the Dublin Government. ‘We can’t have these idiots running around the web ripping each others’ websites to shreds. I mean seriously, how are we supposed to be applying for EU reconstruction grants when these mongs can’t stop shooting their mouths off on-line? Eh? Ha?’
Ooooo. Suits you sir!
No matter what happens in this case, one thing’s for sure: this is just the beginning. With the peace process faltering, money-laundering at a near-total standstill and the drug trade now effectively relocated to some bloke’s bathroom in Alicante, former paramilitary organisations are faced with the need to diversify their services. And a website shopping experience is the front line in this new war.
Although details are scant at this time, industry rumours suggest that a series of high-profile meetings between Cunt & Cunt Marketing agency and the IRA high-command may lead to a bold new product stream later this year. Amongst the products rumoured to be in the pipeline are ‘Muzzle’, a range of fragrances for him and her, capturing that unique Bogside Marching Season aroma, matching towel sets (in balaclava green and brown) and even a Terro-gram service (for hen and stag parties) has been mooted. Deals with several major European retailers are said to be under way.
by Sean Doran