'Portadown News' falls foul of Freeserve


A website poking fun at the deeply unfunny political situation in Northern Ireland has been shut down by Britain’s biggest Internet Service Provider (ISP), which declared it racist and offensive.

The Portadown Newswas shut down by Freeserve, the Internet giant whose servers had been hosting the site, almost two weeks ago.

Freeserve received a complaint from a member of the public and decided that the site broke its terms of service declaring it to be either "abusive", "racist", or likely to cause "offence and anxiety".

The site, run from the Armagh town by a one-man operation since March of this year, has been favourably compared to the US satirical publication, the Onion.

It has carried spoof stories lampooning both the nationalist and loyalist communities in Northern Ireland in general and Portadown in particular.

"As part of its commitments under the Good Friday Agreement, the IRA will be relaunched next week as The Northern Ireland Terrorist Service. (N.I.T.S.)," begins the lead story in the current issue.

Freeserve pulled the plug on the site without alerting the editor, who prefers to remain anonymous.

"I noticed the site was down last Tuesday, but I had to phone their helpdesk to find out what had actually happened. Fortunately I already had an alternative address and the alternative hosting was a longstanding offer from an old friend, so the site was down for less than 24 hours", the site's editor said.

A spokesperson for Freeserve confirmed to ireland.comthe site had been closed following a complaint from a member of the public. She stressed that although the the company did not police sites it was prepared to act if it received a complaint.

After the complaint was made a review of the content on the site was carried out by Freeserve’s "Network Integrity team".

"A decision was taken to remove the site. It contained racist comment and bad language that was likely to cause offence and anxiety. As such this contravened our terms and conditions", the spokesperson said.

The editor dismisses the claims of racism. "I think that 'racist' is a term used to silence any criticism of spineless censorship.

"I couldn't believe nobody else had set something like this up all I ever hoped for from the site was that it would be read and enjoyed in Portadown as an antidote to all that is going on here".