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Opinion

Why the Welsh Government should declare St David’s Day a de facto public holiday – without Westminster’s permission

01 Mar 2022 3 minutes Read
Welsh Government. St David’s day: First Minister Mark Drakeford

Dafydd Meurig, Deputy Leader of Cyngor Gwynedd

Today, on this Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Sant, thousands of Cyngor Gwynedd staff will be having a day off. They will be joined by many hundreds more from Parc Cenedlaethol Eryri, town and community councils such as Aberystwyth and Rhuthun, community organisations and others.

Support for the idea of a national holiday comes from across the political divide, from Conservative MS Sam Kurtz, Labour controlled Caerffili Council, WLGA leader Andrew Morgan, to the Plaid Cymru group on Neath Port Talbot council.

The decision made by Gwynedd – for this year only – was not straightforward. Turning this one-off event into a permanent fixture requires the council to weigh up long term practicality and cost considerations, but most of all it needs to address the unfairness of not being able to include teaching staff, whose employment terms are negotiated nationally by the Welsh Government and not at local level.

The simple solution is for a Public Holiday to be declared in Wales on or near to March 1st, creating a long weekend at the beginning of spring where we can all celebrate or mark the occasion as we see fit. As we have seen from the contemptuous letter sent to the Chair of Cyngor Gwynedd, this is unlikely to happen as long as the Westminster regime retain the powers, and we should not hold our breath to see what their response will be to the recent petition by Elfed Wyn ap Elwyn.

De facto public holiday

But do we actually need the powers in Wales, or can we act without them? What if all public bodies – including the Welsh Government itself – were to declare a public holiday on the same day? And what if other large organisations can be persuaded to do likewise? It could become a de facto bank holiday for most Welsh citizens.

I believe the Welsh Government is key here. It should declare a public holiday for all its staff on 1st March next year, and support all other public sector bodies – local authorities, national parks, government agencies, health boards etc – who wish to do likewise.

Importantly, it needs to start discussions with teaching unions to allow schools a designated St David’s Day holiday, possibly during a half-term as part of the anticipated reorganisation of the school year.

A nationally agreed holiday – on the first Friday in March for example – would create a long weekend at the beginning of spring so that we can celebrate our nationhood in whatever way we want, just like all other normal countries.


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CapM
CapM
2 months ago

Making Saint Dewi’s day a public holiday would be a way of asserting and promoting our nationhood which is why some are in favour of it and others are against it. The argument about cost is a red herring other counties have such public holidays and the sky does not fall in on them.

Ideally a public holiday celebrating independence would be on the calendar but until then Saint Dewi’s day seems an obvious focus for expressing our identity.

Ed Jones
Ed Jones
2 months ago

Am with you on this Dafydd, syniad da (not Sonia’s dad as it almost became – autocorrect is, shall, we say naughty at times!).

Jonathan Edwards
2 months ago

Congratulations to Dafydd Meurig and Gwynedd because

  1. they realise the holiday doesn’t have to be labelled “bank” ie subject to San Steffan
  2. In the end it comes down to willingness to act
  3. Gwynedd have the weight and knowledge to make it work

Catch up, Wales!

Quornby
Quornby
2 months ago

The people will make it a holiday when Wales is free. It’s not a bl**dy present from London.

Jack Bryn
Jack Bryn
2 months ago

I have taken St David’s Day off for about twenty years. Agree that we should do it in a UDI Fashion. Just say that going forward, as of today, March 1st is a public holiday.

Rob
Rob
2 months ago

There is legally a difference between a Public Holiday and a Bank Holiday. In England and Wales, Christmas Day and Good Friday are actually Public Holidays not Bank Holidays. In Scotland, Public Holidays are set by local authorities. Schedule 7a of the Government of Wales Act 2006 reserves Bank Holidays but not Public Holidays. So what is to stop the Senedd from passing a law that makes St David’s Day a Public Holiday?

Stephen Owen
Stephen Owen
2 months ago

Da iawn, Cymru am byth 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

Richard
Richard
2 months ago

While climbing 🧗‍♀️ in the Julian Alps a half dozen or so years back I stayed with a local family who were keen to learn about Cymru fach. when was our national day etc ? Did we celebrate it as a National Holiday ? slovenia 🇸🇮 had been run by the Austrians who banned their language and repressed their culture so they climbed their mountain 🏔 peaks to celebrate. When the Hungarians and Facsist Italian Mussolini ran parts – same story and same answer from the Slovenia 🇸🇮 folk. When Putins Russia 🇷🇺 invaders came after the War – same… Read more »

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
2 months ago

Why on earth should we as a Welsh nation have to ask like a small child if Whitehall can give us the power to create Dydd Dewi Sant/ St’ David’s Day. Enough is enough. Just do it. Anyway, the Conservatives show scant regard for Welsh devolution & Wales. They think it’s acceptable to threaten, undermine, overrule and bypass our democratically elected Senedd Cymru by reimposing direct rule. The Conservative Government in London forgets that their party has no legitimacy to rule in Wales. They are in power at Westminster largely thanks to the English block vote. They have no right… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by Y Cymro

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