Sinn Féin spokesperson on Gaeilge, Gaeltacht, Arts and Culture Aengus Ó Snodaigh has welcomed Fine Gael’s u-turn on Sinn Féin’s call for an additional yearly bank holiday.
Teachta Ó Snodaigh brought forward a Bill in 2016 for April 24th to be declared a public holiday, marking the anniversary of the Easter Rising. Lá na Poblachta or Republic Day would serve as a national holiday ‘in acknowledgement of the sacrifices of the men, women and children who kept this nation alive for many centuries, those who fought to establish the Republic and the need to implement the republican ideals set out in the Proclamation’.
Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil voted against the Bill. This weekend, however, Fine Gael Minister of State Martin Hayden said a new public holiday was indeed needed, and proposed Lá Fhéile Bríde, February 1st.
Teachta Ó Snodaigh said:
“I am delighted to see this Damascene conversion on public holidays from Fine Gael. They should copy Sinn Féin policies more often, it would do the country some good.
“I was, however, surprised to see a change of heart given all the reasons Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil outlined at the time for opposing the ‘significant economic costs’. We were told that it was not the right time for ‘heaping additional costs on small businesses’ facing Brexit.
“If anything, I would have thought the economic situation was even worse now in the middle of the pandemic, but I am glad to see the government listen to reason and accept the merit of having an extra holiday.
“I was also happy to see Teachta Hayden highlight the role Naomh Bríd played championing equality. Again, this is something Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, as they preside over growing inequality and hardship for our most vulnerable, should learn from and act upon.
“It is worth noting that my Bill envisaged more than simply a day off – it proposed nationwide events encouraging us to reflect on what citizenship and equality mean in the context of the Republic promised in 1916. There is no reason why both days could not be used as opportunities for national reflection.
“When I brought forward my Bill in 2016, Brian Hayes, the then Fine Gael MEP, went further and called for multiple additional public holidays ‘to acknowledge the sacrifices made during the crash’, noting that workers in Finland, Malta and Spain all have a full week more public holidays than workers here.
“Now, as we aim to acknowledge the sacrifices made and the loss felt during Covid, perhaps we should listen to the now head of the Banking and Payments Federation of Ireland and perhaps make both Lá Fhéile Bríde and Lá na Poblachta 24 April bank holidays.
“I am happy that imitiation is a form of agreement.”