Fine Gael website v2.0 up, overnight success???

So the *ahem* NEW Fine Gael website just launched at So what’s changed since yesterday’s short-lived first incarnation? Let’s see. v2.0 v2.0 v1.0 v1.0

Updates to new version:

  1. Colour scheme gone from blue to green (someone checked the FG branding guidelines, well done)
  2. Fonts – we’ve gone from lovely sans-serif to the less lovely serif (at least that was an easy find & replace job)
  3. Class names and IDs of pretty much all elements appear to have been changed in the source HTML & CSS (ouch, someone had a late night)

We’ve also got lots and lots of Paschal Donohoe all over the thing this time around but that’s another story. A decent effort at a coverup of blatant plagiarism but anyone who frequents the BBC website for their news fix would still spot the ‘inspiration’ or at least start rubbing their chin and say ‘it looks familiar but I’m not sure why’.

I will be emailing FG at lunch time. Can’t wait to see if I hear anything back. Guessing we still have no names of whodunnit in terms of overseeing the project/building the site?

Update @2.23pm on 17/01/09: Stu has been doing some more lining up while Vincent Gribbin is still adamement that the site is not a copy.

Update @5.20pm on 17/04/09: Commenter points out that FG have violated the terms of the website. Senator Paschal Donohoe replied swiftly to my email to say (paraphrasing) he hasn’t seen any news or heard anything about the site but will look into it when he’s back from his travels.

27 thoughts on “Fine Gael website v2.0 up, overnight success???”

  1. Thanks :) Standards compliant web tiger whose currently adding meta info to all her web pages so that they make IE8 render as IE7 (hackedy-hackedy-hoo!)

  2. Get over it Steph. The site is brilliant. Its really is superb. Its online, it works, and its not going anywhere.

    As a matter of fact, the site online now, was ready to go last week, the .org site up yesterday was a bit of a teaser based on some very early work.

    I think its great. Don’t think anybody else other than yourself and Dave Cochrane of are even the slightest bit bothered. My two cents, appreciate a brilliant website when you see it!

  3. @Stephen Behan: Nope, sorry I’m not quite “over it” just yet. The site sadly, isn’t as brilliant as you might imagine. For a website of this scale, importance and high profile a bespoke effort is required. Taking someone else’s layout and wedging your own content into it just doesn’t work in this context. The guys who created this layout/design/system for the BBC would have spent a lot of time planning & trying out different solutions and ultimately arrived at one that was best for the BBC, thus the success & popularity of the BBC website.

    Aside from the failing of Fine Gael to recognise that they should have taken a far more professional approach and hired an experienced company to manage something as important as their online presence, we’re looking at a case of blatant plagiarism here. Call yesterdays’ launch what you like, “teaser”, “soft launch”, “beta testing” – it was built on code and design stolen from the BBC. It wasn’t just “inspiration” that was taken. It was the building blocks that were under it. If I had handed over such a project in university for correction, I’d have been given no grade and would be sitting before a disciplinary committee on account of plagiarism.

    I’m not out to get anyone here, I’m just appalled at the manner in which this has been done. Believe it or not, before yesterday’s big disaster, I was a Fine Gael supporter and voter along with 4 other members of my direct family. I’m now questioning whether I should vote for an organisation that can’t manage a project of this scale correctly, never mind representing me in government.

  4. Ha. I know that trick. Photoshop batch action on the images folder to change the hue, balla bing a different coloured website. That’s what I do whenever I have to reskin a forum.

  5. @Steph, you’re actually putting FG political representation on the same par as its organisation and tools as used. Not the best of ideas methinks. Not comparing likes.

    Finaly word by me, its a great site, and a very very useful tool into the future.

  6. @Stephen Yes, so useful that I couldn’t find ONE contact email address on the website. Got a generic one from Suzy and had Paschal’s at hand so all is ok, my thoughts have been transmitted.

  7. Response to my email (apparently). Same thing was on last night as far as I can remember.

    Dear Stephanie

    Sincere thanks you for your email.

    For the sake of clarity, I would make a number of points:
    The new website is not a direct copy of the BBC website.
    All design work on the website was done inhouse.
    Freelance programming was employed for about 5% of the site.

    The web designer/programmer is an inhouse staff member based at FG HQ and recruited last year to do this specific job.
    Fine Gael is very happy with its new Website. Thank you for highlighting the errors you mention, which we will endeavour to correct as soon as possible.

    Vincent Gribbin

    Head of Internal Communication

  8. Stephen, I’d lay off the cheerleading for the moment until there is some more clarity about the nature and process involved in the design and implementation of the site.

    As I’ve said over on having a similar look ‘a’ feel is not so much the issue as the ‘how’ involved in the creation of that look. I would hope that we will get some more clarity later today and until then I’d prefer to personally hold off on either going yah-yah or boo-boo.

  9. @Stephen ‘Its online, it works, and its not going anywhere’

    Great quote from someone who probably is not up-to-date on plagiarism laws, or website development protocol. Why pretend you know something about it when you don’t? This is the kind of annoying talk that made me lose confidence and leave YFG back in first year. Blind worship of what the head organisation does in the hope you’ll be recognised and move up the ranks.

    As for ‘…you’re actually putting FG political representation on the same par as its organisation and tools as used’
    – are you saying that because FG representation is less than ideal, thus so can it’s promotional tools? Or that high quality FG representation in parliament is what matters, and not it’s main link to the public, the website? If this party is seriously thinking of calling a re-election then you guys better get professional and realistic. It’s the age of technology and if you can’t keep up you fall behind. As for plagiarising/seriously copying the BBC website, surely that is not the best message to be sending out to the people.

  10. “Taking someone else’s layout and wedging your own content into it just doesn’t work in this context”

    That was a great website when it was the BBC website. It just does not work as a political party website. It is a confusing and overcrowded page. On the BBC the page acts as a conduit to a vast amount of content. Here it’s just doing things cos they can be done, showing stuff in a kool way.

    It’s like deciding that a lawn mower is a great cutting tool, and on that basis deciding to use it to trim your hair.

    Lazy, lazy, lazy and not a good reflection on the party at all.

  11. @Steph ‘…so useful that I couldn’t find ONE contact email address on the website’

    I had a look myself – it’s true! Not a single way of emailing FG. That’s great quality, that is.

  12. It should be said that AFAIK the BBC has never taken any action over this kind of infringement. Other notable examples have been the Croatian TV company HRT and for a period RTL in Hungary.

    Hopefully you’ll get a response from FG soon.

  13. From the terms and conditions

    “You may not copy, reproduce, republish, disassemble, decompile, reverse engineer, download, post, broadcast, transmit, make available to the public, or otherwise use content in any way except for your own personal, non-commercial use. You also agree not to adapt, alter or create a derivative work from any content except for your own personal, non-commercial use.”

  14. Ahahaha!

    Three words for whoever in Fine Gael might read this- intellectual property & plagiarism.

    Learn the legal meaning of the first concept, followed by a quick trip to your local university in which any kindly lecturer shall explain the concept of plagiarism to you.

    @Stephen Behan- The FG website is amongst one of the worst laid-out website I’ve seen in a while. Your main menu has dead links in it and doesn’t even offer a link to FG policy, which one has to scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a link for. While I’m sure you’re depending on Mr. Kenny’s warm and fuzzy personality to draw in the voters, it might also be useful to actually show highlight some of your policies. Your party amongst other political parties needs to catch up with the present and realise that most people are getting their information from the Internet. Your website is not a “great tool”, it’s a token gesture.

    Incidentally I was going to link Steph’s post to my local FG TDs but I couldn’t find contact details for them on your website. What a shocker!

  15. what a horrible website. the fact that content exists in tabs, inside portals is ridiculous enough, but the font choice is enough to put me off food – it’s barely readable!

    can’t believe they took the code and used it – i could understand “inspiration” just not blatant theft.

    @red – followed the link and there’s actually a project won by same bidder, for a “website similar to”:

    look under “Last Won Projects” – “Web portal – Ajax + PHP + mySql”…links to:


  16. Great detective work, Steph. It is to be expected that the party’s attempts at damage limitation are based more on denial than on full and forthright disclosure.

    I love this in the Tribune piece: “a frenzy of online techno comments”. It makes bloggers sound like a cabal of 2 Unlimited fans.

  17. Oh, dear, this is rather embarrassing. For extra fun, please see the local news section of the new site…

    Hmm, lovely Fine Gael astroturfers, what precisely is your party’s policy on copyright theft? When other people do it, I mean.

    Also, it’s really just a dreadful website. As is the new BBC site; if you must rip off someone else’s work, consider trying someone talented next time.

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