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Let England Celebrate Its National Day Too

20/04/2016 17:33 | Updated 20 April 2016

As a son of the Emerald Isle, I know about having good craic.

But when it comes to enjoying a day off, why should the Irish and our Scottish friends have more fun than everyone else?

Anyone fortunate enough to live in Northern Ireland gets ten Bank Holidays a year, including days off for St Patrick's Day and The Twelfth of July.

In Scotland, workers get nine Bank Holidays, ever since they were granted an extra day a year in 2008 to mark St Andrew's Day.

But it is a different story in England which has just eight Bank Holidays - compared to an EU average of 11 public holidays. In fact, as far as I know, only the Mexicans get fewer public days off.

St George's Day this Saturday will again go unmarked by a public holiday. It's the same in Wales where the eight Bank Holidays do not include St David's Day.

I believe it is time that changed and we honoured the patron saints of England and Wales in same ways as we honour those of Scotland and Ireland.

That's why I'm calling today on the Government to look at the possibility of creating an extra Bank Holiday in both England and Wales.

It would give both nations a chance to celebrate their proud heritage in the same way as the Irish and the Scottish.

And, it would provide a boost for tourism and give millions of workers a well-earned day off to enjoy as they wish with family and friends.

I recognise there could be some concerns from businesses that might talk about the risk of lost productivity. But happy workers are productive workers.

Bringing England and Wales more into line with Scotland and Northern Ireland is not only the fair thing to do, it's also the right thing to do.

St Patrick's Day has been an official public holiday in Ireland since 1903. The Irish diaspora here in Britain, in America and across the globe have raised a glass and joined annual celebrations, wherever they may be.

It brings together strangers in foreign lands who share a common heritage and it helps promote the culture and values of Ireland across the world.

These are benefits that England and Wales should also be enjoying.

It's time the Government acted to end the unfairness that has seen workers in England short-changed for too long when it comes to Bank Holidays. So, this St George's Day, I echo the famous words used in the House of Commons many years ago, and say to the Prime Minister: speak for England, David, and give the English their national day off too!

Conor McGinn is the Labour MP for St Helens North

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