The Irish Government's decision on a new St. Brigid's Day bank holiday has been delayed due to rising COVID-19 infections, according to reports.
It appeared increasingly likely that Ireland's newest bank holiday would be dedicated to Saint Brigid, the country's first female patron saint, whose feast day is celebrated on February 1.
Reports stated that the new bank holiday would take place on the Monday before February 1, meaning that the first St. Brigid's Day bank holiday would take place on January 31 next year.
However, a report in the Sunday Times stated that talks on the issue at the Labour Employer Economic Forum have been momentarily shelved due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the country.
The publication reported that the delay at the Labour Employer Economic Forum could put the new bank holiday in jeopardy as employers will need significant notice before it is implemented.
"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," a Government source told the Sunday Times.
The forum had initially aimed to conclude deliberations on the new bank holiday by the end of November.
Employers are also resistant to the concept of a new annual bank holiday but are open to a one-off event as a pandemic bonus, the Sunday Times reports.
Ireland currently has nine annual public holidays, while European countries such as Austria and Italy offer 13 and 12 respectively.
An extra bank holiday has been touted for several months, with feminist group launching a petition last month calling on the Government to make St. Brigid's Day Ireland's newest public holiday.
More than 12,000 people have signed the online petition, which has been supported by the Women's Parliamentary Caucus and the Green Party.