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Taoiseach denies 'bottling' extra bank holiday but next year seen as more likely option

The idea of Ireland having an extra bank holiday to boost the tourism sector has been mooted for several months.

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN has said there were no discussions yesterday about the potential for an extra Bank Holiday this year. 

The idea of Ireland having an extra bank holiday to boost the tourism sector has been mooted for several months and was raised again today in the publication of a new report. 

The Tourism Recovery Plan from the Tourism Recovery Taskforce has said among its recommendations that an additional bank holiday in the off-peak season be considered.

While there had been reports that an extra Bank Holiday could be on the cards for this December, a senior government source has indicated that this could be more likely next year when the effects of the pandemic may have eased. 

The thinking being that, with restrictions in place now and for the foreseeable future, there is little point in rolling out a new bank holiday when nobody can travel outside their county. 

Despite this, there had been some reports that the extra bank holiday could be signed off by Cabinet this week for Monday 21 December.

Labour’s Alan Kelly raised the reports in the Dáil today, asking the Taoiseach whether he “bottled the 21 December” or if there was any extra consideration given to an extra bank holiday at all.  

In response, the Taoiseach said:

“There was no bank holiday date in my mind yesterday. I don’t know where that came from. There was a lot more in my mind yesterday than the awarding of the bank holiday, I can tell you that.”

So I don’t know where that came from. But it wasn’t in my head anyway, I can tell you. There was a more fundamental issue about Level 3, Level 5, those were the issues yesterday.

Ireland lags quite a few days behind countries like Austria, Sweden and other European countries when it comes to public holidays.

Higher Education Minister Simon Harris told earlier this year that an extra bank holiday would be a good idea, saying there would be “some benefit in having a day to recognise all that people have been through and sacrificed”.

- With reporting by Christina Finn

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