A Government decision on a new or one-off bank holiday to thank frontline workers for their efforts during the pandemic has reportedly been delayed due to the recent rise in Covid infections.
There had been increasing consensus around January 31st becoming a bank holiday next year to tie in with St Brigid’s Day, which falls on Tuesday, February 1st.
However, according to a report in the Sunday Times, talks on the issue at the Labour Employer Economic Forum have been set aside following the recent uptick in Covid cases.
A senior Government source quoted in the newspaper said employers will need good notice of any new bank holiday.
"We are running out of time between now and February for St Brigid's Day to be the chosen date, and we cannot be sure how long this wave is going to impact on society generally to make that call," the source said.
The report also said employers' groups are more resistant to a new annual bank holiday but are open to a one-off event.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin has yet to confirm the proposals, and earlier this month said “it remains to be seen how Government will decide ultimately on that matter, along with other matters in that context”.
An extra holiday, to add to the nine current bank holidays, has been promoted for several months as one of a range of options for a "pandemic bonus".
Feminist group Herstory last month called on the Government to make St Brigid’s Day a new public holiday. An online petition was signed by more than 12,000 people.
The campaign received backing from the Women's Parliamentary Caucus, the Green Party and public figures like Joe Duffy, Marian Keyes and Imelda May.
In January, Minister of State Martin Heydon also submitted a proposal to Government on making St Brigid’s Day a new public holiday.
St Brigid is considered a patron saint of Ireland and February 1st marks the beginning of spring.