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Double bank holiday earmarked for St Patrick's Day weekend next year, says Varadkar

A permanent bank holiday would then be held on St Brigid’s Day from 2023 onwards.

St Patricks Day Parade in Dublin four years ago.
St Patricks Day Parade in Dublin four years ago.
Image: sam boal

GOVERNMENT IS LOOKING at the option of a double public holiday on 17 and 18 March next year, with a permanent new public holiday being held on St Brigid’s Day from 2023 onwards, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar confirmed today. 

Speaking to RTÉ’s Claire Byrne, Varadkar said that as indicated previously, having the extra bank holiday on the St Patrick’s Day weekend would give enough tine for businesses to plan.

Given the “difficult situation” the hospitals find themselves in the government did not feel it was “appropriate” to announce an extra bank holiday for February next year.

He said the government wants to have a day of remembrance for those that have died during the pandemic, as well as a day of recognition for workers who “did so much”.

Explaining the reasoning for not having the bank holiday on St Brigid’s Day next year, he said that bank holidays can be quite disruptive to the health service, with GP surgeries closed or on reduced hours.

The possibility of having an extended bank holiday weekend for St Patrick’s Day has been in the mix for some time, but it appeared that an extra bank holiday in February was the favourite. 

It is understood there were also concerns that there could still be some level of Covid restrictions in place in early February, with Covid legislation being extended out until that date. 

There were some suggestions that any extra day could be tacked on to the Christmas days off but this idea was opposed by many in Government who preferred it to be a standalone day off. 

Labour employment spokesperson Marie Sherlock said the kite flying by the Tánaiste needs to end now.

Calling for a commitment to a date for a new permanent public holiday, Sherlock said the delay and messing on the public holiday is but a distraction from the real hardship being experienced by all workers as a result of the pandemic.

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The idea of Ireland having an extra bank holiday to boost the tourism sector has been mooted for several months and was also raised in a recent report on how to boost tourism.

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

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 TheJournal last 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”.

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