A government minister has ruled out an extra bank holiday for Ireland for now despite calls from tourism chiefs who say it would be a huge boost to the economy.
The impacts of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic would have to be considered before extra bank holidays are brought in, junior business minister Damien English said.
Answering a parliamentary question yesterday, Minister of State Damien English said there would be various factors that would need to be considered first.
Fine Gael TD Emer Higgins asked both the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will introduce a bank holiday in the month of July.
Responding to the question, Mr English said: “An extra holiday has implications of a broad nature in terms of costs and productivity and has cross-government issues to be explored.”
Ireland currently observes only nine bank holidays annually, which is less than most European countries.
They include: New Year's Day, St Patrick's Day, Easter Monday, the first Monday in May, the first Monday in June, the first Monday in August, the last Monday in October, Christmas Day and St Stephen's Day.
Mr English said that the legislation which provides for public holidays is the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997. This Act provides that certain days may be prescribed as public holidays.
“Any proposal for the provision of an additional public holiday would require careful consideration and wide-ranging consultations with relevant stakeholders,” he added.
“Not least we would need to consider the implications and impact of any new public holiday on employment and for the economy at large, in particular the extra costs it would impose on employers already dealing with the Covid-19 crisis and Brexit.”
However, last year Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he would consider an extra bank holiday following the pandemic.
“I think that is one potential [thing] that we could do in terms of reflecting and acknowledging the work of many workers in different fields and in different sectors,” he said.
In addition, the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation has said that a one-off bank holiday this year would provide a much-needed boost for hotels, restaurants and pubs - many of which have only reopened for the first time this year earlier this month.