Leo Varadkar confirms plans for two new Bank Holidays in 2023
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said the government is looking at plans for two new Bank Holidays in Ireland next year.
Speaking on RTÉ News at One on Tuesday, Varadkar said a double Bank Holiday is being considered around St Patrick's Day in 2023 on the 17 and 18 of March.
He also said a Bank Holiday is being discussed around St Brigid's Day [1 February] in 2023.
"What we’re working on is a proposal to have a double Bank Holiday for St. Patrick’s Day, so that would be the 17th and 18th of March, and a new permanent Bank Holiday for St. Brigid’s Day, which would come into effect in 2023," Varadkar said.
"We just haven’t pushed the button on that yet. We’re still fighting this pandemic, it’s not over yet," he added.
"The purpose of the day would be a day to remember those who have been lost and to recognise all of the people who have done phenomenal work during this period. It just seems it’s too early to make the decision on that given that this [the pandemic] is not yet over."
It's not the first time such a proposal has been mooted by the Tánaiste. Speaking to Claire Byrne last year, Varadkar suggested the double Bank Holiday could be in effect in 2022, but that no longer appears to be the case.
On the subject of the current Covid-19 Omicron variant, Varadkar said that if the current wave peaks in the coming weeks, the government would "be open" to easing restrictions in February.
"We're probably the only country in Europe where for two years we haven't been able to stand in a bar or go to your office if you want to," he said.
It comes as the Government is set to discuss the possibility of easing restrictions for close contacts of Covid-19 cases.
The Cabinet is expected to receive updated public health guidance on the matter when it meets on Wednesday.
Speaking on the subject on Tuesday, Varadkar stated his support for a change to the guidelines.
"I do think we need to relax the rules over close contacts, but we need to come up with a way of doing that that is safe," he said.
Main image via Sam Boal, Sasko Lazarov / RollingNews.ie