SOCIETY has been “numbed” by “breaches of trust” arising from the role that institutions and professions played in the economic collapse, President Michael D Higgins has said.
There is a need to discuss how trust can be restored and what type of institutions are needed for the future which will be shaped by a new initiative aimed at placing ethics at the centre of public life.
Some 50 seminars will be held across the country over the course of the year to discuss the role ethics should play in economics, religion, public life, science, social media and the professions.
President Higgins said the breakdown in trust, coupled with the return of immigation, had left a “certain sense of numbness, of sleepwalking”.
“People now are a bit numbed, they’re numbed by the breaches in trust,” he told independent.ie. “It’s a very significant thing in a country that if you have institutions that were not only ones in which people placed their trust, but were conservative institutions as well.
“We’re in a space where people ask the immediate question of who trust can be restored, and they also ask what kind of institutions can serve us best now.
“We’ve seen the return of immigation which is deeply distressing for many, even with the modern communications where people can Skype each other. All of this means there’s a certain sense of numbness, of sleepwalking.”
The president’s ethics initiative, ‘Shaping Ireland’s Shared Future’, follows his commitment to open a public debate where the core values and concerns of society could be expressed.
It will begin at university level, with public events to be held in the community.
Among the topics to be discussed include ethics in economics, business, financial services and the professions. There will also be debates on cyberethics and data collection, ethics in healthcare, in planning and construction and its impact on the environment, and public life.
A series of guest speakers will also deliver lectures, with seminars beginning next month.