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Ireland gets extra bank holiday – while UK Government won’t let Wales take St David’s Day off

20 Jan 2022 3 minute read
St Patricks’ Day in Ireland. Picture by Giuseppe Milo (CC BY 2.0).

Ireland is to get an extra bank holiday, while the UK Government continues to refuse Wales permission for an extra one to celebrate St David’s Day.

Workers in Wales and England already get four fewer public holidays than the EU average. The Republic of Ireland announced that they were creating a new one as a national commemoration of those who have lost their lives to Covid.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the bank holiday this year was “to recognise all of those workers, volunteers and members of the general public, who helped us in this fight against the pandemic, and especially frontline healthcare workers”.

From next year they will also create an annual bank holiday to celebrate women on 1 February, St Brigid’s Day, which marks the Celtic festival of Imbolc, or rebirth and the coming of spring.

Within the UK, workers in Scotland do best with 11 public holidays, followed by Northern Ireland with 10. Wales and England meanwhile are stuck on a stingy eight. They will however be allowed an extra one this year only due to the Queens’ Jubilee.

Last year the Trades Union Congress called for the creation of four new bank holidays to bring both Wales and England into line with other European nations.


The UK Government have previously rejected calls by the Welsh Government and Gwynedd Council to devolve powers over bank holidays or to designate March 1 a bank holiday in Wales.

Earlier this week Welsh Government said that they had asked “time after time” for the power to denote 1 Mawrth a bank holiday.

Gwynedd Council also voted on Tuesday to give their own staff the day off. Cllr Dafydd Meurig, the council’s deputy leader, however, said that he believed that Wales could “benefit economically” if St David’s Day celebration became widespread in the country.

“That would be the ideal and ensure that all workers from all sectors have a national holiday to celebrate St David’s Day on the first of March,” he said.

“If Ireland’s St Patrick’s public holiday is anything to go by, there is the potential there for Wales to benefit economically.”

In October of last year, they sent a letter to UK Government ministers calling for an end to the “embarrassing” anomaly of the Scottish and Northern Irish Governments being able to designate their national days while no such powers are currently devolved to Cardiff Bay.

But in a letter Paul Scully MP, the Minster for Small Business, poured cold water on any additional Bank Holiday for Wales.

Writing in response to the council’s request, Mr Scully noted, “While we appreciate that the people of Wales want to celebrate their patron saint, more people work across the English/Welsh border than across the English/Scottish border.

“This closer degree of integration could cause greater business disruption. If we had separate bank holidays in England and Wales, the impact on both employees and businesses is difficult to predict.”

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Y Cymro
Y Cymro
2 years ago

We in Wales should not lie down and allow English Whitehall to dictate to us how we cannot create a national holiday to celebrate St’ David’s Day. Both Scotland & NI enjoy not only more bank holidays than Wales, but also celebrate their patron saints where again Wales is singled out for special treatment by England’s Tory party. Enough is enough! We, not England, reserve the right to create an additional holiday to celebrate Wales & Britain’s only true native patron Saint David. We are a sovereign country. I cannot tolerate this hypocrisy anymore. Why aren’t we flooding the streets… Read more »

Last edited 2 years ago by Y Cymro
Gareth Wyn Jones
Gareth Wyn Jones
2 years ago

It is not correct that the tories never take the knee, they do, it is on our necks

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
2 years ago

Well done Gwynedd but it will still be hard for other cash strapped councils to follow suit unless the Senedd helps out financially. Better still let’s have a referendum on the subject, yeah yeah we hate referendums now. But 1/ it’ll gauge the Welsh public’s mood and 2/ it’ll help the independence movement immensely when Westminster continues to block the view of the consensus. (Why wouldn’t people vote for another BH?)

Aled Rees
Aled Rees
2 years ago

Well done Gwynedd.Come on other councils follow our lead,who cares if we upset any basterd who’s against the idea.A bank holiday just for Wales,whats not to like!

Grayham Jones
2 years ago

The Welsh Government should say see to St David’s in wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 it’s not up to the English government stop being little Englanders and and be proud to be welsh kick all English party’s out of wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 it’s time for a New Wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

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