Tuesday 17 January 2017

MEP wants new public holiday to 'honour sacrifices'

Published 28/10/2016 | 02:30

Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes. Photo: Steve Humphreys

An extra public holiday should be introduced as part of the talks over pay restoration, a Fine Gael MEP has said.

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Ireland has among the lowest number of public holidays in the European Union, and Brian Hayes believes that a new one should be granted "to acknowledge the sacrifices made during the economic crash".

"As a recovery country with pay restoration dominating national debate it's time to look at our public holidays," he said.

While there are nine holidays here, the European average is 11. Finnish workers are given 15 days off a year, while in Malta and Spain the figure is 14.

Mr Hayes, who is an MEP for Dublin, contends that a properly planned bank holiday can generate economic activity and jobs.

"The October bank holiday is the perfect example. Following its introduction by the late Michael O'Leary we saw the growth and development of the jazz festival in Cork and the Dublin City Marathon," he added.

"The introduction of the May bank holiday, by Ruairi Quinn in 1994, increased short breaks and signalled the start of the summer season."

The former junior minister for finance said a new bank holiday would create more tourism and festival activity and also boost the economy while helping to alleviate demands for increased annual leave.

"There has been a lot of talk about the sacrifices made during the crash," he added. "Increasing the number of public holidays would be a real way to honour that sacrifice.

"While pay is dominating the headlines, in our own lives pay and holidays are the main part of our working conditions.

"This is why I want to see additional public holidays back on the agenda as a country coming out of an economic crash."

Only Hungary, the Netherlands and UK, which each have eight public holidays, have fewer than Ireland.

Irish Independent

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