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