Cardiff councillors call for St David’s Day holiday
Alex Seabrook, local democracy reporter
Councillors have called for staff at Cardiff council to be given the day off every March 1 to celebrate St David’s Day.
The calls come amid growing pressure to make St David’s Day a bank holiday across Wales.
More than 12,000 people have signed a petition calling on Westminster to make the patron saint’s day a bank holiday, and Gwynedd council will soon give staff the day off to celebrate the national holiday.
Now Cardiff could soon follow, after councillors backed a motion on March 17 to explore how council staff could be given the day off, and any effects on finance or frontline services.
Propel Councillor Neil McEvoy, who put forward the motion, said Cardiff should seek to emulate St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Dublin, with a huge parade in the city centre.
He said: “St David’s Day is an ideal opportunity to begin the tourist season in Wales. What we suffer from, particularly here in Cardiff, is a lack of respect for Welsh tradition and Welshness. We’re almost second-class citizens in our own country.
“I find it frustrating and I feel demeaned as a person born in Wales knowing that the authorities don’t take our nationality seriously. I would like to see those running the council to have a more pro-Wales attitude, and give staff a day off. Look at what they do in Dublin with St Patrick’s Day, that’s the watermark. That’s what we should be doing.”
Labour Cllr Michael Michael, cabinet member for clean streets, recycling and environment, said he supported calls for Westminster to give the Welsh Government the power to create new bank holidays, but said the Tory government has refused to do so. He added the next council administration after the election should explore giving council staff a day off.
He said: “The power to declare a bank holiday lies with Westminster. They could give the power to the Assembly or declare it by royal proclamation. It shocked me when I found out it didn’t have the royal proclamation power.
“The council doesn’t have the power to declare a bank holiday. But I have no problem with celebrations. The next administration should be given the chance to come back to the council with the powers it has and a way forward, and ask officers to come back with a report to see what we can do.”
Scotland and Northern Ireland have the power to create bank holidays, with St Andrew’s and St Patrick’s Day a bank holiday respectively. Scotland has nine bank holidays a year, and Northern Ireland has 10, while Wales and England usually get just eight.
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.