THE IRISH government is considering having a double bank holiday in March 2022, which would mark two years since the pandemic began.
Speaking on Today with Claire Byrne on RTÉ Radio 1, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said it would be inappropriate for a new bank holiday to be announced for early next year given the current situation in hospitals, however a two-day bank holiday is on the cards for St Patrick's Day and 18 March.
The government had previously planned to announce a new bank holiday for St Brigid's Day between 31 January and 5 February.
"We kind of feel that announcing a public holiday for the 31 January, which would be St Brigid's Day, or 5 February, would be inappropriate given where we are in the pandemic," Varadkar said.
"We also need to give people a bit of notice so that they can work out their shifts and so on and also bear in mind that public holidays are quite disruptive for our health service, GP surgeries are closed and hospitals operate on a skeleton staff."
He said notice needs to be given to the public and that the government wants to make sure there is not an additional public holiday when hospitals are in a difficult situation.
"One option that we're looking at is the 18 March," he continued."So you'd have a double bank holiday which would be the 17 and 18 March for St Patrick's Day, two years since the pandemic began in many ways, at least in Ireland.
"And then what we would do after that from 2023 onwards would be a permanent new bank holiday for St Brigid's Day but that decision isn't made yet, but we just thought it would be inappropriate to announce tomorrow that we're having another public holiday."
He recognised the long weeks between New Year's Day and St Patrick's Day, and the argument that there should be at least one bank holiday named after a woman, which would be rectified by the St Brigid's Day date.
Fianna Fáil Senator Fiona O'Loughlin suggested this week that the new bank holiday should land on the same day as the Late Late Toy Show, however Varadkar rejected the idea on air.