After reading a response to a post I put up on the Irish Webmaster Forum, I headed to the Garda website. From what I can see of it, it is absolutely useless for any informative purposes under Linux.
To give an example, say I want to get the phone number for the Garda Station in Listowel, Kerry. First of all I will go to www.garda.ie. This will present me with a page with the option to click on "New Visitors" or "Previous Visitors". The only different between the two is that "New Visitor" forces me to read a message from Noel Conroy before having to click the "Enter" link in order to get to the same page as "Previous Visitors" would have originally sent me to.
I eventually clicked on the "FAQs" button in order to see if there is some reason for the lack of any standards support. I clicked on the "I want to email a Garda Station" link. This kindly informed me that the Gardai "do not have external e-mail facilities for the general public to contact Garda Stations", but gave me a "local stations" link to click. From here I was able to click on Kerry, and was able to find the number for the Listowel Garda Station in a couple of seconds.
The Garda website should be a public website which should be available to everyone. The unnecessary complication that has been added to the links on the website means that I cannot use the site. I don't even want to think about how bad it must appear to people who with disabilities who use.
To quote from the NDA website:
Irish public policy includes requirements for government departments and agencies to procure accessible ICT solutions where possible. In particular, all government departments are now expected to have their websites accessible to Priority 1 & 2 of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 1.0 from the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). The National Disability Authority have adopted WCAG for these guidelines.
There is no way that the Garda website can pass any WCAG test. The lack of bog standed links means that even a simple search engine bot, such as GoogleBot, won't be able to index the site. What even more amazing is that a lot of Gardai email addresses
are under the iol.ie domain. I have no problem with IOL
, they provided me with Internet when I was on DialUp, but I would have hoped that the Garda would have their own infrastructure for email.
I have every respect for the job that the Gardai do, however I would have hoped that the Garda Website would be usable be every Irish Citizen. With a little work the Garda Website could be a great resource, but as it stands it is unusable for a sizable minority of Irish Citizens, and not following EU Guidelines for IT. Surely the Gardai should be able to provide a usable website, there is plenty of people in Ireland who can do a lot better job than the current website.