07 Jul 2022

Local MLAs call for St Brigid's Day public holiday

The call comes after a similar move in the Republic of Ireland.

Local MLAs call for St Brigid's Day public holiday

Cara Hunter and Sinead McLaughlin have called for February 1 to be a public holiday.

Two SDLP MLAs have called for February 1 to become a public holiday in line with a recent move in the Republic of Ireland.

The date marks St Brigid's Day, seen in the Celtic calendar as the traditional beginning of Spring and the celebration of one of Ireland's patron saints.

A decision has been taken in the South to declare the day a public holiday from 2023 to remember all those who died during the Covid-19 pandemic and to recognise the work of frontline healthcare workers.

The move also means it will be the first public holiday in the Republic to be named after a woman.

MLAs Cara Hunter and Sinead McLaughlin said a similar move in the North would be a 'fitting tribute' to frontline staff.

"Our frontline staff, from doctors and nurses to bus drivers and binmen put themselves and their families in harm’s way during the pandemic to ensure that people could get the medical treatment they needed, so that they could get to school and work and to keep vital services running," they said.

"We would not have been able to get through this difficult period without them. It is only right that their sacrifices are recognised.

"Many families right across the North lost loved ones in extremely difficult conditions during the pandemic. People were unable to grieve in the traditional way, attendance at wakes and funerals were strictly limited and many were forced to die alone without the support of their family due to the restrictions in place.

"The pain and anguish from this will reverberate through our society for some time and I think it would be very meaningful for families to have a day where they can come together and remember those they have lost.

“Creating the first public holiday on the island of Ireland named after a woman would also be significant. We have heard much discourse in recent weeks and months about the role Irish women play in our society and the need to challenge outdated and misogynistic attitudes.

"There is a need for greater equality and parity and I think naming a bank holiday after St Brigid, the female patron saint of Ireland, would send a powerful message about how far we have come, but recognise the work still to be done.”

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