1916 centenary: No bank holiday

Moves to commemorate the Easter uprising with an annual public holiday are to be blocked by the Government.

The Cabinet decided to oppose proposed Sinn Féin legislation that would have meant April 24 becoming a national day of remembrance for the 1916 rebellion, known as Republic Day.

Sinn Féin TD Aengus O Snodaigh is set to bring the attempted legal change back to the Dáil this Friday, but Government deputies will vote it down. Ministers said Ireland already had enough public holidays.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s spokesperson said an expert group had considered making next April 24 a one-off national holiday but decided against the idea.

As it had been rejected as a stand-alone event, it would not be sensible to support it as an annual public holiday, the spokesperson said.

Mr O Snodaigh said that his Public Holidays (Lá Na Poblachta) Bill would “mark the many thousands of men and women who sacrificed their lives in pursuit of an independent Irish Republic”.

The Dublin TD said Ireland was unusual in that it did not mark the day when its nationhood was declared.

“The national holiday which is proposed by the bill will take place on April 24, the anniversary of the reading of the proclamation of the Irish Republic outside the GPO by Pádraig Pearse in 1916. The bill proposes a nationwide programme of events to commemorate and raise awareness of the contribution our forefathers made in the liberation of the Irish nation on this day annually.

“It is worth noting that Ireland currently has nine annual bank holidays. The European average is 11. Clearly there is a great opportunity here to establish a national day celebrating our Republic, with this bill bringing us closer to the European average,” he said.

Mr Kenny’s spokesperson said that a nationwide programme of events had been organised to mark the centenary.

Government plans to mark the occasion have been criticised by some for not being comprehensive enough.

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