On Twitter, the unlimited humor of "The Irish Border"

The Monty Python would not have denied the @BorderIrish account which is expressed on the Brexit in the name of the line, almost invisible, which separates the two Irlandes.

Time to Reading 4 min.

"Here it's me at the Brexit negotiations. The @BorderIrish account represents the border between the two Irans as "the elephant in the room", an obvious subject that people refuse to see. Screenshot of @BorderIrish account on Twitter

"It's a kind of catharsis. Like thousands of other Internet users, sociology professor Katy Hayward at Queen's University in Belfast is enjoying daily protests from Twitter. @BorderIrish. Created in February 2018, it gives a human voice to the 499 kilometers that form the Irish border: an invisible geographical infrastructure, source of horrible headaches in Westminster as in Brussels. Because it is obviously in response to the Brexit puzzle that counts, now followed by more than 100,000 people including Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, was created in February 2018.

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At each event, the border goes out of his mocking Tweet. On 19 October, while the British Prime Minister seems reluctant to ask the European Union for more time: "Do you want me to write it to you, your little letter, Boris? " Or at the recent announcement of a possible border in the Irish Sea, @BorderIrish to post a montage of a stretch of grass accompanied by … armbands at the edge of a pool. Symbolizing by the absurd the complexity to implement such a decision. The satirical account has even seen his prose collected in the form of a book, I Am the Border, So I Am (published by HarperCollins), published this October 31, supposed day of the implementation of Brexit, now postponed to January 31, 2020.

Word Games and Metaphors

Since the 1998 peace agreement, neither soldier nor customs post to monitor the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Everyone now goes through it as they wish, to get to work or go shopping. But the threat of a hard Brexit or a "no deal" has upset everything, reviving memories of the civil war. Many people on the Emerald Isle, especially those living near the border, have so far been ignored or even scorned by the British government. As if it was possible to find a magical solution overnight or, simply, to ignore the problem. This is how the Irish border has long been perceived: "An elephant in the room" ("An elephant in the room"). An English metaphor to describe something obvious, but which one refuses to see.

The anonymous creator of the @BorderIrish account has therefore decided to give him a soul, inspired by Twitter accounts like that of the New Zealand River Whanganui, which was granted, in March 2017, the legal status of legal personality. In turn, the Irish border takes the form of a pachyderm or a stretch of grass with a strong personality and speech tinged with typical Irish expressions.

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Very quickly, @BorderIrish has managed to master the codes and the pace of Twitter: creating ingenious word games, dialogues and metaphors in 280 characters, often punctuated with delicious alliterations. Like when he answered (still) a Tweet Boris Johnson insisting on an exit on October 31: "Yer bum's a plum! " ("Your ass is a plum!", A North Irish expression to mean that the other person is saying anything). The Guardian Moreover, his pen has been compared to a mixture of references in English culture such as Father Ted, Monty Python or Oscar Wilde. Despite the success of his creation, the man, who answered our questions by mail, wishes to remain in the shade, for shyness but also for artistic concern: "If everyone knew who I was, the fiction would be broken. "

Humor to ridicule and educate

Constantly, @BorderIrish sarcastically remembers politics to reason, especially the brexiters, often quick to distort reality. Its creator thus sees humor as a way to appease anger, to ridicule the ideas of its opponents but also to create solidarity, educate and inform: "I do not know if I can, but that's the best I can hope for. And even if it only really affects one person from time to time. " @BorderIrish also allows some journalists and diplomats to leave the framework of the eternal explanations, negotiations and geopolitical suppositions. "I interact with them and sometimes even discuss with some in private. They appreciate being able to laugh at their work, because it must be very trying to be involved in Brexit on a daily basis. "

"Boris Johnson is in Belfast today, but he will not visit me because I would eat him. Another way the @BorderIrish account represents the border is an expanse of grass that looks innocuous, but actually dangerous.
"Boris Johnson is in Belfast today, but he will not visit me because I would eat him. Another way the @BorderIrish account represents the border is an expanse of grass that looks innocuous, but actually dangerous. Screenshot of @BorderIrish account on Twitter

"@BorderIrish always reacts quickly to the news, with intelligence and humor. It's a welcome contribution, says Katy Hayward, who is one of those intellectuals determined to offer a fair and enlightened look at the consequences of Brexit. It's also a very Irish way of responding to something that touches us deeply. "

If @BorderIrish is so inexhaustible on the subject, it is mainly because the man knows what he is talking about. As this one revealed in an interview with Usbek & Rica magazine in 2018, "The only thing I can say is what I live on the island and I'm Irish. I lived "Troubles" (the period of civil war that ended with the 1998 peace agreement) and that's something important for me. " A state of mind shared by tens of thousands of other citizens of the island, still uncertain of the future that will be reserved for them after the next British legislative elections on December 12.

Read also "Ireland, Brexit border": between past dramas and uncertain future

Julien Marsault

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