As a keen observer of both politics and technology I have spent the last decade and more watching the rise of the internet proxy wars that have flared up across the world wide web and in particular on sites like Wikipedia. The collective online encyclopaedia has become something of a new “high ground” in the information wars for numerous national- and non-national players around the globe. So it is no surprise that representatives of both Irish and British Nationalism (and sympathetic allies or observers on both sides) have made the migration to this new battleground. However what makes the internet all the more interesting is the manner in which one person can actually make a difference (just Google the term “Anglophone supremacist” to see why). Information is power and to control the main sources of information is to wield that power. And Wikipedia is certainly an exemplar of that.

So I’d thought I’d feature the “Talk” page of the English language Wikipedia entry for the Irish village of An Mhagh or Muff/Eglinton in County Derry. It represents a fascinating online microcosm of the greater struggle for Irish freedom, even in the most seemingly innocuous of things. And the determination of individuals to compete for the control of the online sources of information.

Irish republican commentary from Ireland on national and international politics, history and culture. Ireland's Best Current Affairs and Politics Blog

9 comments on “Some More WikiWar News

  1. Feargal Ó Gadhra

    That’s an insanely petty page discussion, right there!


    • Indeed. That’s what makes it so interesting. If such a small thing can cause such a debate (and a minor edit war) imagine the really big issues. The insistence by Wikipedia’s senior editors that the nation-state of Ireland be listed as the “Republic of Ireland” after one such particularly virulent series of attacks and counter-attacks shows how one side can gain victory over the other and thereby impose its own reality.

      To you and I we live in Ireland, the nation-state thereof.

      To the rest of the world, who consult English Wikipedia, we live in the Republic of Ireland.

      The Talk pages are quite illuminating, cataloguing how the British insistence that Ireland be called anything but Ireland gained the upper hand due to the dominance of British editors and Wikipedians.


  2. Which part of “Republic of Ireland” annoys you? I mean if you want a monarch … More to the point, in the interests of peace, didn’t you all vote in a referendum a few years back to drop your territorial claims on the north? “Oligarchy of a Large Part of Ireland” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, agus cad é as Gaeilge?


    • Well since I live in the nation-state of Ireland (as it is officially named and internationally recognised in the English language) I object to it being labelled the “Republic of Ireland” or “ROI” in one of the most important catalogues and “go-to” sources of information on the internet simply because a few British nationalists object to it being listed by its real name. That is essentially what happened with the “Ireland” entry on Wikipedia. British nationalist editors and Wikipedians fought a prolonged series of edit wars over Irish entries and one by one they have succeed in having their views imposed. Ireland is a republic, that is its legal and democratic status, but its legal name is Ireland.

      The vote did not remove the “claim” of the nation-state of Ireland to exercise territorial authority over the island of Ireland and its islands. It made it subject to qualification which is somewhat different.

      It says much for British insecurity that they cannot allow “Ireland” to stand alone as the entry for the Irish state on Wikipedia.


  3. Daithí Mac Éinrí

    It’s not only British nationalists/unionists who tend to avoid calling the state ‘Ireland’. My fellow Irish nationalists and republicans here in ‘the North’ do likewise, but for other reasons. To many ‘Northern’ nationalists and republicans, calling the state ‘Ireland’ is partitionist. In other words, it implies that the North isn’t part of ‘Ireland’ (or part of the ‘real Ireland’) and that its people are thus ‘less Irish’ than those in the South.

    Even though ‘Ireland’ is the official name of the state, calling it ‘Ireland’ is sometimes likened to calling the North ‘Ulster’. Ulster has been the name of an Irish province for more than 1000 years; the North has existed for less than 100 years and doesn’t include the whole province. Likewise, Ireland/Éire has been the name of the island for more than 1000 years; the state has existed for less than 100 years and doesn’t include the whole island.

    According to the Republic of Ireland Act 1948, ‘Republic of Ireland’ is the official description of the state. On Wikipedia, this official description is only used as the article title and when there is a need to distinguish between the state and the island (as the island has no other name). This policy was the result of a vote, which was open to all registered editors. Here are the various arguments for and against. One Irish editor analyzed the results and found that most Irish editors voted for keeping the article at ‘Republic of Ireland’, with ‘Ireland (state)’ coming second.

    By the way, happy second birthday to ASF. I hope it continues for many more.


    • Thanks for the links, Daithí, much appreciated.

      The Wikipedia entry is an abomination of shyster language:

      “Ireland (/ˈaɪərlənd/ or /ˈɑrlənd/; Irish: Éire, pronounced [ˈeːɾʲə] ( listen)), described as the Republic of Ireland (Irish: Poblacht na hÉireann), is a sovereign state in Europe…”

      Who describes it thus? Not the Constitution of the sovereign state itself. A perversion of the facts.

      I of course agree that one can hear many Irish citizens north of the border using terms like “Free State” or “26 Counties” however their use is often to make a political point and is more rare in casual conversation. Then one simply hears references to a locality, town or county across the border. Above that “down South” or “in the South” is more normal.

      My own view, a Republican one (though not shared by all Republicans), is that the nation-state of Ireland and the island-nation of Ireland are one and the same thing. The name “Ireland” is a recognition and affirmation of that.

      That is why, in part, I object so much to being told I live in “Roy” 😉


      • Peadar Ó Lorcáin

        Sionnach: I missed this earlier strand/discussion, unfortunately – was redirected from your Poison Pen Letter article (18/5/13) – but isn’t the point being lost somewhat: who in their right mind would use Wikipedia as primary source of information? Any student or journalist using it for anything other than a directional tool for more reliable resources should be given an smack! Besides – coinage/stamps: I always thought “Éire is ainm don Stát nó, sa Sacs-Bhéarla, Ireland” – – Thanks, Peadar


  4. of topic but couldn’t find relevant thread – may he rest in peace


    • The loss of public figures very rarely effects me. They are after all strangers. But Banks’ passing has actually left me with a profound sense of loss. I suppose that says much for the power of his writing. No more Culture, no more “mainstream” works. In loosing Banks the whole world has had a loss, even if the vast majority of it is unaware of that fact- or could care less even if it did know.


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