Heritage Minister rules out creating public holiday to mark 1916 Rising

Sinn Féin introduced a bill calling for Lá na Poblachta to be held every April 24th

Heritage Minister rules out creating public holiday to mark 1916 Rising

Heather Humphreys. Image: RollingNews.ie

The Heritage Minister has ruled out creating an annual public holiday to mark the 1916 Rising and the War of Independence.

The idea for Lá na Poblachta - which would be held on April 24th - had been proposed by Sinn Féin ahead of this year's centenary commemorations.

The proposal was rejected last year, but was brought before the Dáil again.

In a speech in the Dáil this evening, Heather Humphreys said she believes the success of the 2016 Centenary Programme has been unprecedented and has shown in her view that a bank holiday is not needed.

"We didn’t need an additional public holiday to drive that public engagement or to create an additional space for the unprecedented level of public participation that we experienced," she suggested, pointing out that the existing Easter Monday holiday was an 'appropriate opportunity' for centenary celebrations.

Minister Humphreys said creating a significant legacy programme would be more beneficial in the long run.

She also highlighted the costs of introducing a new bank holiday.

Minister Humphreys said: "A preliminary analysis has been undertaken by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation of the direct and indirect costs and benefits for employers and employees arising from an extra bank holiday. It estimates that the total potential loss in productivity for an additional day's public holiday would be approximately €396 million. 

"This covers the public and private sectors, and takes into account those sectors which are expected to remain open for a public holiday, those which have a choice and those which are forced to close," she added.

Ahead of the debate, the Green Party had countered the Sinn Féin proposals by suggesting the Government should make St Brigid's Day in February a public holiday instead.