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Bord Gáis threatens to shut down éirígí website

23/05/07

In a blatant attempt at political censorship solicitors acting on behalf of Bord Gáis Éireann (BGE) have issued ‘legal complaint’ in relation to the éirígí website.  The complaint alleges that a mock-up of a BGE invoice displayed on the site infringes upon BGE’s ‘intellectual property’ and that the alleged association of the BGE trademark with the contents of the website is ‘defamatory’.  Furthermore the complaint alleges that there the imagery used might ‘confuse people into thinking that there is a connection between the website and BGE’.

eirigi bring the issue to Bord GaisThe ‘legal complaint’, received by the éirígí website designer in early April, ‘requires’ the removal of the alleged infringement and threatens that failure to do so may result in further legal action including liability for ‘substantial damages’ and other non-specified ‘sanctions’.

The same solicitors have also written to ‘Hosting 365’, the web hosting company used by the éirígí website, once again threatening further legal action if the Bord Gáis mock-up invoice is not removed from the site.

The controversial image is an electronic version of an éirígí information leaflet focused on the giveaway of Ireland’s oil and gas reserves.  To date close to 50,000 of these leaflets have been distributed to homes across Ireland.

Following legal advice and discussions with Hosting 365 éirígí has reluctantly agreed to alter the image involved.

Speaking in relation to the legal moves by Bord Gáis éirígí chairperson Brian Leeson said

‘It is quite obvious that Bord Gáis, and their political masters in Leinster House, don’t want anyone highlighting how billions of euros worth of Irish gas have been literally given away to the private energy companies.  This giveaway will leave Ireland at the mercy of the international energy markets which will inevitably lead to higher energy bills for hundreds of thousands of already hard-pressed families across Ireland.’

Commenting on the controversial image itself Brian acknowledged the similarity between it and a Bord Gáis invoice ‘We are not contesting the fact that the imagery used in the leaflet is similar to that used by Bord Gáis – in fact that’s kind of the point of it!

‘The leaflet that we have produced is a six page information leaflet.  Two of the six pages have been deliberately designed to resemble a Bord Gáis invoice.  This was done to highlight the very real link between the recent increases in the price of domestic gas and the government giveaway billions of euro worth of Irish gas reserves.  This type of satirical mock-up is regularly used by political activists, journalists and artists the world over.  Bord Gáis’s over-reaction to the image is very telling and suggests a paranoia when it comes to questions relating to recent price increases.’

Bord Gáis are claiming that the image might confuse people into thinking that the leaflet is in someway related to Bord Gáis.  Anyone who has seen the leaflet would realise how laughable a claim this is.  Three pages of the leaflet are very clearly related to the entire issue of how Ireland’s natural resources are being used while a fourth page gives an explanation of what éirígí is and even includes a membership application form.’

Brian continued, questioning the cost of the legal action, ‘The fact that Bord Gáis have decided to engage a major, high-profile, legal firm such as ‘McCann Fitzgerald’ to silence democratic debate is an absolute disgrace.  I’m sure that Bord Gáis’s customers, who are currently struggling to pay their gas bills, would be very interested to know exactly how much this charade is costing Bord Gáis.  Is lining the pockets of solicitors the best use of a semi-state companies financial resources?  While hundreds of thousands of people are experiencing the very real effects of fuel poverty Bord Gáis are using the money accrued from their recent price increases to try silence political debate.’

‘Following discussions with our legal advisors and our web hosting company we have decided to alter the image which has caused Bord Gáis such concern.  We reluctantly took this decision as soon as it became apparent that the legal advice received by our web hosting company was such that our entire website was likely to be shut down if we did not agree to alter the image.  Unfortunately for Bord Gáis and the Dublin government this measure will not silence those of us who want to see an end to the Great Gas Giveaway, in fact it will simply encourage us to re-double of efforts.’

Click here for more information on the giveaway of Irelands natural resources>>

Click here to access éirígí's campaign leaflet>>

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