Garda Website Unusable Under Linux (And Anything Other Than IE?)

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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.

Once I get to the home.html page I can try to get to the "Contact Us" link. This will do absolutely NOTHING in Firefox. When you click on the link it goes to "javascript:hili('cux','cu');" My Javascript isn't the best at the moment, so I can't figure out exactly what this is supposed to do, but I can tell you for fact that it doesn't work on Firefox 2.0.0.2 on Ubuntu.

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.

What I would love to know, is why the link for "Contact Us" can't be changed from "javascript:hili('cux','cu');" to "stations.html". It takes less characters ( :) ), is compatible with every browser that I know, and is a LOT simplier to implement. It is the same with every other link in the blue box at the top left of the page, every one of them uses the hili javascript function. I don't really care what the hili function is supposed to be able to do, but it is unusable under Firefox.

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.

1 TrackBack

Worst Site of the week?... from Irish SEO, Marketing & Webmaster Discussion on March 11, 2007 1:46 AM

For the moment I am pretty disgusted with the Official Garda Website. Needs a serious face lift and at least an update on their missing persons section. Read More

10 Comments

i agree with you its a very sad state.

it gets my Pulse racing. i have been told that each Garda station does NOT have an official email address.

last year (date on record) the Garda site remained down for 4 days. calls to the press office confirmed this.

http://military.ie/ used be worse but that got sorted.

the iol v garda is a good point, but garda.ie could be with iol, and we might just be talking gloss.

justice should ARREST this situ soon!
come on Michael, century check, 2007!

Brian,

It's probably very hard for the Gardai to the expertise they need in house in order to manage any IT infrastructure. I have been told that in order to do anything specialized in the Garda force, you have to do three years walking the streets first. This will probably turn lots of people who would be well able to do IT off.

The public Garda IT infrastructure seems to be on Esat's netblock. I'm sure that IOL/Esat have a nice interface for setting up emails accounts etc. There is just probably no centralized system for getting it sorted within the Garda, so people just register the IOL addresses in order to get stuff done.

Their website really doesn't do any justice for them (pun intended).

The links don't even work at this end using FF so basically the site is 100% useless to me.

Gavin,

You using Windows? I don't have any Windows PC available to me here :)

Hi Niall,

Yes using Windows here. Tested the site on two machines with FF and the links don't even work, haven't even bothered to check IE yet.

Niall, I take it you mean to say you are quoting the National Disability Authority's website rather than that of the Industrial Development Agency!

I do agree with you though - it is totally unacceptable that the website of the Garda Siochana is unworkable with screen readers (the navigation links at the top of the sire aren't pure text but GIF files) so even people with disabilities, those that most likely can't defend or help themselves in the event of an emergency, that use Internet Explorer can't use the site.

I find this both reprehensible and grossly irresponsible.

Ken,

You are perfectly correct, I have edited the post accordingly.

So - who in govn (now thats its an eGoverment) do u need 2 kick who can then go back n "beat up the Gardai" :)

Lal

The Garda are Unusable altogether!

But isn't a Government website that doesn't work for everyone against all the accessibility guidelines set down by W3C and the European Union?

Dave,

The problem is that they are just guidelines. I don't think it's required by law. Will have to check that though.

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This page contains a single entry by Niall Donegan published on March 11, 2007 1:41 AM.

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