Hacking of pro-life group’s website ‘pointless’

The pro-life group Youth Defence has contacted gardaí after its website became the target of hackers who claimed the charity is effectively a US-funded group focused on preventing abortion in Ireland.

Between 10am and 1pm yesterday the website came under attack from as yet unknown individuals.

Instead of the usual homepage, anyone visiting www.youthdefence.ie was told: “This is not the hate-filled truth-distorting website you’re looking for”.

Over the following eight pages the hackers, who said they wanted to “blow the lid” on Youth Defence’s secrets, detailed a series of claims about the group’s alleged funding sources and the background of senior officials.

The claims made, which the group reject, include:

*The Catholic charity is mainly funded by “US organisations pouring money into shady groups here to try and change our rules and society for their own gains”;

*The group is registered as a charity, meaning that under Irish law it must disclose the source of donations over €100 and is not allowed to accept donations over €2,500. However, it does not “allow the Public Office Commission to see where they are getting their money from”;

*Youth Defence’s website is hosted by Texas-based firm AM Design, whose other customers include US Christian commercial organisations; the group has only recently changed its default donation currency from dollars to euro; and that just 14% of its social media followers are from Ireland compared to 59% who are from North America;

*Youth Defence’s head office is at 60a Capel St, Dublin. Other groups based at this office are Coir, the Life Institute, the Mother and Child Campaign, the Pro-Life Alliance, www. prolifeinfo.ie, and Truth TV.

A group called Life House has tax exempt status in the US, and describes its purpose as helping “to make sure Ireland remains pro-life and abortion free, and make it easier for Americans to support Ireland’s pro-life success story”.

The hackers also alleged that “North American fundamental christians are flown in to boost numbers” at pro-life rallies. “Youth Defence is not what you think it is,” the hackers, who for a short time put up the email addresses of subscribers to Youth Defence’s newsletter, said.

Claire Molloy, Youth Defence spokesperson, said gardaí have been contacted over the hacking, which she said was “illegal and utterly pointless”. She said the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner has also been contacted.

“Aside from being illegal and utterly pointless, the actions taken by the person or persons who did this have breached the privacy of people on both sides of the debate,” she said.

“Publishing private mailing lists should demonstrate, with utter finality, who the real extremists are in this debate,” she said, adding the hackers were “juvenile and hysterical”.


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