Irish language

Will the British border in Ireland be the undoing of the Brexit plan?

DOMINIC RAAB: The Brexit Secretary seems to be pondering the complexities of policing the border between Blacklion and Belcoo or one of the other 207 border crossings in this photo from yesterday's Andrew Marr Show
Robert McMillen

HOLA, bonjour, guten tag and buongiorno to all my European friends and a Dia duit to everyone else as tackle the Bluffer’s Guide to Irish.

As you know you can talk about anything under the sun in Irish, from Coronation Street to Donald Trump and colonic irrigation – sometimes in the same sentence.

(Colonic irrigation in Irish is níochán drólainne if you must know, although the Bluffer has never tried it!)

Irish speakers have conversation around the fuaraitheoir uisce - the water cooler like anyone else (or is that an American thang?)

Anyway, the main subject of conversation around many water coolers, or bar counters, or on the Glider is to do with the bould Breatimeacht - Brexit.

Lámha in airde - hands up anyone who knows what’s going on at the minute never mind what’s going to happen on 29 March 2019 at 11pm when an Ríocht Aontaithe - the United Kingdom either becomes great again OR it’s flushed down the toilet.

Few people have convincingly argued that it will be something in between.

Do you have strong views on An tAontas Eorpach - the European Union?

An bhfuil tú i bhfách leis? - are you in favour of it?

An bhfuil tú ina éadan? Are you against it?

What are your thoughts on an Margadh Aonair - the single market? and are you glad we are leaving it or are you pulling your follicles out because you want to stay.

The Single Market treats EU member states as one country and this, they say, “stimulates competition and trade, improves efficiency, raises quality, and helps cut prices.”

Outside of it, the intellectual giant that is Liam Fox will be opening up alternative markets all over the world in places like Papua-New Guinea, the Maldives and Suriname so there’s nothing to worry about there.

The UK is also leaving an t-aontas custam - the Customs Union (or is it???) wherein the EU27 have agreed to charge the same import duties as each other and usually to allow saorthrádáil - free trade between themselves.

Okay. Okay. You don’t often hear arguments over import duties in Caffe Nero or in Subway but what people are talking about is an teorainn - the border.

The border comes in a variety different versions - teorainn chrua - a hard border or teorainn bhog - a soft border or even a  teorainn gan imreas - a frictionless border.

(No-one so far has suggested a herbaceous border which would be very pretty but on reflection would be unlikely to deter diesel smugglers.)

The word of the moment is an cúlstop - the backstop which is either a legally binding agreement between the UK government and the European Union or something akin to a baby wipe, depending on who you believe.

However, the backstop has huge implications for everyone living on this island and it will be fascinating – and sometimes frightening –to see how it plays out.

There are of course worries that it could play havoc with Comhaontú Aoine an Chéasta - the Good Friday Agreement, that wide-scale violence could return although the Bluffer thinks this is unlikely.

Whatever direction events take, it is unlikely that things will ever be the same on these islands. 


níochán drólainne (neeakhaan drolanya) - colonic irrigation

fuaraitheoir uisce (fooreehore ishka) - a water cooler

Breatimeacht (bratimakht) - Brexit

lámha in airde (laowa in arja) - hands up 

an Ríocht Aontaithe (un reeakht aynteeha) - the United Kingdom

An tAontas Eorpach (un tayntiss orapakh) - the European Union?

An bhfuil tú i bhfách leis? (un wil too i waakh lesh) - are you in favour of it?

An bhfuil tú ina éadan? (un wil too ina aydan) - are you against it?

An Margadh Aonair (un maragoo ayner) - the single market

an t-aontas custam (un t-ayntiss custam) - the Customs Union

saorthrádáil (seerhradaal) - free trade 

an teorainn (an choraan) - the border; teorainn chrua (choraan khrooa) - a hard border; teorainn bhog (choraan wug) - a soft border 

teorainn gan imreas (choraan gun imris) - a frictionless border

an cúlstop (un coolstop) - the backstop

Comhaontú Aoine an Chéasta (co-ayntoo aynya un caysta) - the Good Friday Agreement


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