Two new public holidays have been announced, one of which will be a once-off public holiday in March of this year and the other of which will be a permanent public holiday in February from February of next year.
Once-Off March Public Holiday
A statement on gov.ie said that the government has agreed to a once-off public holiday on Friday March 18 of this year to recognise the efforts made by the public, volunteers and all workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, and also in remembrance of the people who have passed away as a result of COVID-19.
A day of remembrance and recognition will follow the new public holiday during this year's St. Patrick's weekend.
Permanent February Public Holiday
Additionally, a new permanent public holiday will be established from February of 2023 to celebrate Imbolc/St. Brigid's Day.
This holiday will be on the first Monday of February annually, except in years in which St. Brigid's Day (February 1) is a Friday. When this is the case, the February public holiday will be on Friday February 1.
The gov.ie statement about the above news included a statement from Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar, in which he said, "A once-off public holiday, a Day of Remembrance and Recognition, will be held in memory of the more than 9,000 people who have died on the island of Ireland with COVID. This will be held on Friday, 18 March, and means we will have a four-day weekend because 17 March, St. Patrick's Day, is also a public holiday. It will also recognise, and say thank you, to the volunteers, the Irish people, and to all the workers who gave their all in the fight against COVID. We decided to make this decision now on a public holiday, rather than wait until the pandemic is over, because so many have already given so much. It also roughly marks the second anniversary of the beginning of the pandemic in Ireland."
Varadkar added, "From next year, Ireland will have an extra public holiday at the start of February to mark Imbolc/St. Brigid's day. It will be observed on the first Monday of February except where the 1st of February falls on a Friday in which case it will be observed on that day. This will be the first Irish public holiday named after a woman. It marks the half-way point between the winter solstice and the equinox, the beginning of spring and the Celtic New Year. The creation of a tenth public holiday will bring Ireland more into line with the European average and it is one of five new workers' rights that I am establishing this year. The others are the right to statutory sick pay, the right to request remote working, new rights around redundancy for people laid off during the pandemic, and better protection of workplace tips."
Into Kildare Chairman Statement
Meanwhile, official Co. Kildare tourist site Into Kildare issued a statement in which its chairman, David Mongey, said, "Kildare has a deep-rooted connection with St. Brigid which dates back many centuries, so it is fitting that we mark and honour the great work she did for the people of Kildare and, indeed, Ireland. We have been calling for this for a while now and it is brilliant to see it come to fruition just days before this year's celebrations, which will now become especially significant given that they will be the last ones prior to St. Brigid's Day becoming a national public holiday next year."
Into Kildare CEO Statement
Additionally, Into Kildare CEO Áine Mangan said in the official Co. Kildare tourist site's statement, "We are delighted St. Brigid's Day has been recognised as a public holiday from 2023. Not only will this allow people to fully immerse themselves in what is a significant day of celebration for the people of Kildare, an additional bank holiday weekend will also provide a much-needed boost for the local tourism and hospitality industry during shoulder season, which will have a positive economic impact all across the county.
"We are very excited this year to instil an air of hope and positivity to the people of Kildare lighting up of the Hill of Allen once again to mark the resilience and comradery of the people of our county after what has been a difficult couple of years for us all. We hope people will watch the illumination virtually and join us by lighting their own candle as a beacon of hope for the year ahead."
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