Ireland is considering a double Bank Holiday for March 2022
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The Government is considering announcing a double Bank Holiday around St Patrick's Day for 2022.
The news comes as the Government was expected to announce a new Bank Holiday for St Brigid's Day on 31 January or on 5 February next year.
However, speaking on Today with Claire Byrne on RTÉ Radio 1, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said that it would be inappropriate to announce a new public holiday early next year given the current situation in Irish hospitals.
"We kind of feel that announcing a public holiday for the 31st of January, which would be St Brigid's Day, or the 5th of 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."
When asked by Byrne if it was too late to announce a Bank Holiday for 31 January or 5 February, Varadkar responded that he believes it's too late but added there could be a one-off double Bank Holiday in March 2022 instead.
"We need to give people a bit of notice and we also want to make sure that we're not having an additional public holiday when our hospitals are in a very difficult situation.
"One option that we're looking at is the 18th of March, so you'd have a double bank holiday which would be the 17th and 18th of 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."
Varadkar also poured cold water on recent suggestions that Ireland should have another Bank Holiday around the Late Late Toy Show despite suggestions from Fianna Fáil Senator Fiona O'Loughlin this week that it would be a "tree-mendous idea".