Patrick Costello Green Party TD, member of the Good Friday Agreement Oireachtas Committee, has today called on the government to legislate to make the 12th of July a public holiday.
He began, “Today I am calling on the Irish Government to make the 12th of July a public holiday. This day is an extremely important one historically for the island, and culturally for many people who live here.”
“As part of the peace process we have made a number of gestures, such as amending articles 2 and 3 of the constitution. The new article 3 specifies that the state will work ‘to unite all the people who share the territory of the island of Ireland, in all the diversity of their identities and traditions’. I believe my proposal would see us living up to our constitutional obligation.”
Reflecting on current reconciliation efforts he stated, “We have seen the good work currently carried out by the Shared Island unit, building literal bridges between North and South. Efforts such as this would reaffirm that commitment to a sense of shared ownership and history of the island. Indeed, in Northern Ireland both the 12th and St Patrick’s Day are designated as public holidays, this too should be replicated here.”
“Aside from the symbolic effects this would also bring benefits for the tourism industry. For tourism there is huge untapped potential relating to the Jacobite-Williamite War. In particular I think of the Battle of the Boyne site itself where the OPW run a fantastic visitor site. This could become a site of annual pilgrimage for many from the North. In Limerick we could capitalise on the Treaty stone and in Galway on the Battle of Aughrim site.”
Concluding he remarked, “For too long the Irish state sought to portray a single narrative of Irish history, one that was isolationist, militant, nationalist and catholic. We know that history is not black and white, we know that there are numerous traditions on this island. If the Irish state truly aspires to unite all the peoples of this island, then all of those people need to feel represented and included. Designating the 12th as a public holiday would be a major step for that process.”