Ireland's .IE Domain to Allow 'Fadas' in Web Addresses

IE Domain Registry launches a Public Consultation Process for Policy Change on Accented Characters

04 MARCH 2016, CARLOW, IRELAND
Summary
Until now, accented characters such as the á, é, í, ó and ú used in the Irish language have not been permitted in .IE domain names. But now the IE Domain Registry has opened a public consultation process on the best way to change that policy. The closing date for submissions is March 21.

Every Irish speaker knows that you can't type a fada into the Internet, right?

Actually, it just so happens that you can!

Historically, of course, computing was based on a character set known as the 'American Standard Code for Information Interchange', or ASCII. These are the basic Latin characters with no accents, along with mathematical symbols and punctuation. That's it: just 128 characters.

But the world is wide and it has a great variety of languages and alphabets. The Unicode system has been in development since the 1990s and currently supports over 120,000 characters, including Chinese and Arabic characters, as well as all the umlauts, tildes, graves and circumflexes used by European scripts.

Gradually over the past decade, support for more exotic characters is being implemented in the Domain Name System. Now Ireland's official domain, .IE, is preparing to accept the síneadh fada: the acute accent used over vowels in Irish to indicate that their pronunciation is elongated.

The change is prompted by a recommendation from its Policy Advisory Committee to the IE Domain Registry (IEDR), the company which manages the national .IE domain.

The Policy Advisory Committee (PAC) is a group with representatives from the Irish Internet sector, private companies as well as government bodies.

Michele Neylon is CEO of Blacknight, Ireland's largest domain registrar and hosting company, and a member of the PAC. He explains that the importance of the language in Irish culture is the reason for this initiative.

"It is not proposed that IEDR will provide support for all international characters, but the Irish language is ours and there's no sense in having a 'national' domain which doesn't have appropriate support for the national language."

Michal Boleslav Měchura agrees with this view. He's a computer programmer who works with websites like focloir.ie and tearma.ie, providing resources for the Irish-language community.

"Owners of Irish-language websites will be immediately interested", he says.

But it's not just the Gaeilgeoirí who will welcome this, according to Neylon.

"Even if you don't speak Irish, there is no escape from it", he says. "it's in the placenames, the names of companies and organisations, in expressions and in phrases of the English we speak".

"As an indigenous Irish company, Blacknight is proud of the Irish language as an important part of the culture of this country, and we are delighted that the proper respect is to be shown to it by the national domain."

Last week, the IEDR launched a public consultation process on the matter. The committee's recommendations have been published, setting out the proposed policy change and the way in which it can be implemented. The change will occur in phases. Owners of trade marks, for example, will be allowed to submit their applications first, and it's also proposed to give priority to those who already have a version of the domain name without the accent.

There is more information online at iedr.ie and March 21st is the deadline for submissions on the consultation process. It is thought that the new policy could be implemented before the end of the year.

Quotes
"It is not proposed that IEDR will provide support for all international characters, but the Irish language is ours and there's no sense in having a 'national' domain which doesn't have appropriate support for the national language." Michele Neylon, CEO, Blacknight
"Owners of Irish-language websites will be immediately interested" Michal Boleslav Měchura, Developer of Irish language websites
"As an indigenous Irish company, Blacknight is proud of the Irish language as an integral part of the culture of this country, and we are delighted that the proper respect is to be shown to it by the national domain." Michele Neylon, CEO, Blacknight
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About Blacknight

Blacknight (http://www.blacknight.com/) are an Irish based, ICANN accredited domain registrar and hosting company. Recipients of several awards for their revolutionary use of social media, Blacknight are one of Europe’s most cutting edge Internet companies. Blacknight constantly seek to lead the way by introducing innovative solutions for its client base and provide dedicated servers and co-location as well as a comprehensive range of Microsoft Windows and Linux based hosting plans and domain name registration services to business globally. IP transit services and other solutions for more demanding business and academic customers are offered a la carte.

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