However praiseworthy the online encyclopaedia Wikipedia may be for its free dissemination of knowledge to the users of the internet – and I’m somewhat of a cautious supporter – it must be admitted that it has also become a source of misinformation on many important matters, frequently with deliberate political or ideological intent. Take for instance this Wikipedia entry examining the so-called “Real Irish Republican Army” or “RIRA”, a 1997 insurgent grouping in Ireland which has styled itself the “New Irish Republican Army” or “NIRA” since 2012. The leading sidebar information-box gives some quick facts about the organisation, including the following:
Republican Action Against Drugs (Absorbed)
Continuity Irish Republican Army
Euskadi Ta Askatasuna
And if you’re wondering to yourself how the hell has the left-wing and utterly parochial RIRA/NIRA become an ally with the likes of al-Qaeda and the Taliban in the pursuit of a global Caliphate, read on:
“The RIRA has long been thought a supporter of al-Qaeda, involving itself in the jihadist organization’s drug trade and allegedly providing them with locations of important British officials in Northern Ireland. They are also believed to launder money for al-Qaeda.
According to some sources, including a retired Real IRA soldier, the RIRA has developed links with the Lebanese paramilitary group Hezbollah, which includes material support and training. Hezbollah has taught the RIRA new ways of communication after revealing the ease of call tracing. They have also collaborated to perform attacks in both Northern Ireland and mainland Britain. Representatives from both groups have reportedly met in southern Ireland to plan attacks.
The RIRA also has had strong ties to the Euskadi Ta Askatasuna, a Basque revolutionary group in Spain, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The RIRA and PFLP have had a long history of cooperation, as they have had with a great majority of Palestinian groups. They have expressed their support for Hamas, the leading party in the Gaza Strip of Palestine. The groups are strong in their links of anti-Semitism and desires for a free Palestine. RIRA leaders have reportedly met with Hamas officials. Also, the RIRA is believed to have links with the Afghan Taliban, which includes training on making IEDs. The Real IRA may also have links with the Caucasus Emirate and other Chechen rebel groups…”
The primary source for these claims? That would be a 2001 report on “militant Catholicism” and its united opposition with “militant Islam” to the “Anglo-American establishment” from a publication known as the Trumpet, a title which might give you a clue to its origins:
“TheTrumpet.com is the official website of the Philadelphia Trumpet newsmagazine…
…which began in February 1990, is published 10 times a year by the Philadelphia Church of God.
The Trumpet seeks to show how current events are fulfilling the biblically prophesied description of the prevailing state of affairs just before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.”
So that would be the proselytizing website of a right-wing Protestant evangelical congregation in the United States whose current obsessions include the possible instigation of race riots by a “radical black empowerment movement” and the need for a “Western” crusade against Muslims. As for the mysterious editor behind the bizarre anti-RIRA propaganda – as if such a thing were really required given the guerillas’ dreadful history – he or she has no account on Wikipedia of their own, but their IP address traces back to a school, library or local government computer in the US state of Wisconsin and the city of Holmen in particular. Furthermore the individual concerned has been repeatedly censured by more senior Wikipedia editors for politicised editing and acts deemed to be “vandalism” under the encyclopaedia’s rules.
Which of course makes the whole RIRA/NIRA entry on Wikipedia suspect from beginning to end. Though it’s certainly not the only one. For similar questionable content on the internet’s most cited source of information check out the website Wikipediocracy.