Fintan O’Toole: Ireland's extraordinary culture of mutual trust still exists amid pandemic

The State has issued a vast IOU drawn on the bank of public trust

‘If you think of the many and terrible ways in which trust has been abused and betrayed in Ireland over the last two decades, there is something precious in our willingness to keep doing so.’

‘If you think of the many and terrible ways in which trust has been abused and betrayed in Ireland over the last two decades, there is something precious in our willingness to keep doing so.’

In the summer of 1966, the Nobel Prize-winning German novelist Heinrich Böll was, as usual, in Achill, Co Mayo. From early May to the end of July, the entire banking system in Ireland shut down because bank officials went on strike. 

Böll noted in his journal that this was “surely an insane situation, when, in a modern country with a modern economy, cheques must be accepted for weeks, for months, merely on trust . . . when a completely modern economy suddenly places itself in a position of barter and ‘Trust me, fellow countryman.”

The Irish Times
Please subscribe or sign in to continue reading.
The Irish Times

How can I keep reading?

You’ve reached an article that is only available to Irish Times subscribers.

Subscribe today and get the full picture for just €1 for the first month.

Subscribe No obligation, cancel any time.