Dublin Sinn Fein TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh tabled a new bill, the Public Holidays (Lá Na Poblachta) Bill 2013, on Thursday at the Dail which looks to create a national holiday in Ireland to commemorate the April 1916 Rising.
April 24th is the anniversary of when Padraig Pearse read the Proclamation of the Irish Republic on the steps of the General Post Office in Dublin in 1916, effectively ending the Easter Rising.
While the bill calls for the holiday to be observed on April 24th, the legislation calls to have the observance moved to the nearest Monday should it fall on a weekend. Should it fall on Easter Saturday or Sunday, the bill calls for it to be observed on Good Friday, making the day a formal holiday, rather than it’s present informal one.
Additionally, the proposed bill calls for the creation of a ‘Bord Lá na Poblachta’ which would be used to “promote, encourage, coordinate and fund [events] in commemoration and appreciation of the contribution made to the Irish nation by those who, during the centuries of occupation of Ireland by a foreign power, gave their lives and liberty to pursue the freedom of the Irish nation.”
“It shall also seek to raise awareness and promote discourse, analysis and understanding of the ideals and aspirations contained in the key revolutionary documents and events leading up to the declaration of the Irish Republic at the GPO on Monday 24th 25 April, 1916.”
Ó Snodaigh dodged questions as to whether the holiday would be observing “freedom fighters” or “terrorists” by saying "A debate about freedom fighters or terrorists is a long debate…we need to look at the past and remember from the past how we build the future.”
The proposition of the new bill comes just a few years prior to the centenary of the 1916 Rising in Ireland.
Ó Snodaigh explained that many other nations have holidays to celebrate their independence, and that Ireland should be no different.
“While we have yet to secure a fully independent republic we should not allow that to stop us from celebrating the proclamation of our nation and remembering all those who died in pursuit of our independence,” said Ó Snodaigh.
One of the major issues facing Ó Snodaigh’s proposed new holiday is that Ireland took several steps to achieve its independence from colonial Britain which were spread over many dates and years.
As part of his argument in support for his bill, Ó Snodaigh said that adding another national holiday in Ireland will bring it closer to the European Union’s average of 11 holidays per country. Currently, Ireland only observes 9 national holidays.
“It is vitally important,” Ó Snodaigh said, “particularly in the run-up to the centenary of the 1916 Rising, that we put in place measures to ensure that future generations are aware of and fully understand the ideals of those who fought for our Irish Republic. I hope the other parties will support this Bill.”