The proposed new bank holiday should be inclusive not religious
If the Government is to introduce a new bank holiday, it should not be named after or associated with any religious or atheistic figure or belief. It should simply be an inclusive public holiday for everybody, regardless of their religious beliefs or nonreligious philosophical convictions.
In particular, if it is in February, it should not be associated with Saint Brigid, who supposedly wove a Christian cross out of rushes to convert a pagan chieftain into Christianity as he was dying. That is exactly the wrong message to convey about the multi-cultural Ireland of today.
Politicians constantly tell us with regard to religious influence on state activities, such as the Catholic church running our state-funded schools and hospitals, that if we were starting from scratch that we would not put in place what is happening now.
RTE implausibly tells us that the Angelus is not the Angelus, despite it obviously being the Angelus, and patronisingly suggests that non-Catholics can feel included by reflecting on life during a Catholic call to prayer. That religious privilege should also end.
More than half of our bank holidays are simply named after the day or month in which they occur: New Years Day, May Bank Holiday, June Bank Holiday, August Bank Holiday, and October Bank Holiday. The other four have historical religious names: Saint Patrick, Easter, Christmas, and Saint Stephen.
As Ireland is moving in a more inclusive and pluralist direction, where we should all be treated equally regardless of our beliefs, let’s make sure that we don’t take a step backwards by associating a new public holiday with any any religious or atheistic figure or belief.