Fintan O’Toole: Even before Covid-19, we feared an impending disaster

The new government will have to dispel the despair that lingers from the last decade

Anxious Ireland: the hangover from the financial crash weighs heavy on the Irish people. Illustration: iStock

Anxious Ireland: the hangover from the financial crash weighs heavy on the Irish people. Illustration: iStock

Anxiety was already in the Irish air even before coronavirus was. The groundwork for the Sign of the Times study of Irish attitudes was done in February, before the threat from Covid-19 loomed large in the public consciousness.

Yet here are some of the phrases that emerged: “an underlying a sense of anxiety, with many feeling that we’re living on the edge”; “feels like it wouldn’t take much for it to come crashing down; “no evidence of a back-up plan”. One respondent pointed to the way early childcare facilities had almost closed in December because they couldn’t get insurance. “Crisis averted this time, but what will be next?” One of the things Irish people were afraid of was a “major healthcare crisis”.

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