The highest-profile casualties of the gathering recession in Ireland have been the banks. Huge misjudgements in their lending policies has led to the Government being forced to underwrite their liabilities. In the wake of this has come tales of financial wrongdoing and corruption uncovering the whole flimsy façade. Political and business skulduggery has become endemic in the modern Ireland.

So then the banks are out to win back friends and customers in these hard times, right? This morning I toddled along to a major bank whose HQ is not a million miles from College Green. I guessed that opening time was 9.30 but played safe and arrived shortly before 10, to join a few others outside the main gates. At 10.04 an old guy in a black coat and top hat very slowly unlocked the car park gates. He might have been doing this since Ireland became a Republic in 1949.

So this meant the bank was open for business? Not on your Nellie. The wooden doors remained firmly closed, with no note of opening/closing times. Yer man in the hat didn’t give a toss about us of course. But at least there is a Starbucks next door and – whatever your opinion of that mega-chain, at least they are there for their customers.

There is a great Irish phrase, used both as a verb and a noun – ‘cop-on’. Maybe one day the business houses comprising this supposed European financial hub will acquire some of it.

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