The Government has ruled out an additional bank holiday this year – as it would be too costly for employers already struggling with the COVID-19 crisis and Brexit fallout.

The tourism sector called for an extra public holiday to help the hospitality industry recover from the pandemic.

The Irish Tourism Industry Confederation, which represents tourism and hospitality businesses nationwide, said a one-off bank holiday would provide a much-needed boost for hotels, restaurants, pubs and attractions and reward the hard-pressed public for their sacrifices.

However, Minister of State for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Damien English said an extra bank holiday could be too costly for employers already struggling to stay afloat.

“Any proposal for the provision of an additional public holiday would require careful consideration and wide-ranging consultations with relevant stakeholders,” he said.

“Not least we would need to consider the implications and impact of any new public holiday on employment and for the economy at large, in particular the extra costs it would impose on employers already dealing with the COVID-19 crisis and Brexit.”

He added that public holidays would need serious consideration from Government before being brought in.

In response to a parliamentary question, he said: “The legislation which provides for public holidays is the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997.

“This Act provides that certain days may be prescribed as public holidays. At present, there are nine public holidays.

“An extra holiday has implications of a broad nature in terms of costs and productivity and has cross-government issues to be explored.”

Ireland has just nine bank holidays each year — which is among the fewest in Europe.

The public holidays include New Year’s Day, St Patrick’s Day, Easter Monday, the first Monday in May, the first Monday in June, the first Monday in August, the last Monday in October, Christmas Day and St Stephen’s Day. Good Friday is not a public holiday.

Austria, Sweden, Poland and Portugal have 13 holidays while Greece has 12.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin said last December he would consider an extra holiday after the pandemic passes.

Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris and former junior minister for tourism Brendan Griffin are also calling for an extra holiday to support struggling industries and reward people for their sacrifices.

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