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Vice President Joe Biden greets spectators along Grant Street during the 2012 St. Patrick's Day Parade in Pittsburgh Photo by: Rebecca Droke/Post-Gazette

Irish to lobby U.S. Congress to have St Patrick’s Day as national holiday

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Vice President Joe Biden greets spectators along Grant Street during the 2012 St. Patrick's Day Parade in Pittsburgh Photo by: Rebecca Droke/Post-Gazette

A member of the Ancient Order of the Hibernians from San Antonio, TX, has launched an online petition to have St. Patrick’s Day officially declared a national holiday in the United States.

Jimmy O’Halligan's petition aims to have St. Patrick’s Day established as a national holiday, similar to Memorial Day or the 4th of July. He says that the Irish holiday would allow the American people to understand the impact Irish immigrants have had in shaping the country.

The Ancient Order of the Hibernians is America’s oldest Irish Catholic Fraternal Organization, which was founded in 1836.

Jimmy O’Halligan, President of the AOH division in San Antonio, TX, established the petition. He told IrishCentral that he was spurred on to begin this campaign after the cancellation of the St. Patrick’s Day parade in San Antonio in 2012.

Speaking to IrishCentral he said, “The city hit local Irish organizations with thousands of extra dollars in fees to hold the parade. Something our local groups combined couldn't come up with. It was seen as not socially relevant. This happened across the south last year except for Savannah, GA, of course.

“It made me realize how the story of the Irish in America is getting lost in this part of the country. It's a very timely subject in the south as immigration is a big debate.

“A lot of people down here forget the contributions immigrants have made to this country of ours. St Patrick’s Day not only is a day to pay homage to the Patron Saint of Ireland but a day for the Irish and Irish Diaspora to celebrate their heritage and their gifts to society the world over.”

As part of the “Name St. Patricks Day as a National Holiday” petition, he states, “A national holiday in the U.S. would show our appreciation and allow the Irish and Irish at heart the acknowledgment and gratitude of the American people for their impact on the U.S. as we know it.”

Read more: Outrage as St. Patrick's Day deemed too religious and renamed "O'Green Day"

One of the supporters of the petition, John Ziomek from Missouri, TX said, "Of all European Americans, people of Irish Heritage make up the 2nd largest group. We should honor that.”

O’Halligan has also established a petition for the same cause on the White House’s site.

He told IrishCentral that he hopes to have the petition on President Barack Obama’s desk for St. Patrick’s Day 2013.

“My next step is to go to local and national Irish organizations and ask for their support,” O’Halligan said.

“I would love to see this petition get on the Presidents desk in time for St. Patrick's Day.  It could be the one bipartisan motion both sides of the isle could get behind.”

Previous attempts have been made to establish St. Patrick’s Day as a national holiday in the United States. In 2008 Guinness launched a campaign aiming to bring one million signature to Congress.

At the time they carried out a poll which found that 57 percent of those celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in the U.S. are not of American descent.

What do you think? Should the Irish Catholic feast day be included among America’s national holidays? Or should the St. Patrick’s Day parades and festivities across the country be enough?

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