Written Answers. - Special Public Holiday.

Willie Penrose

Question:

130 Mr. Penrose asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if, in view of the cancellation of major events and activities surrounding St. Patrick's Day, she will consider introducing a special public holiday in August or September 2001, to specifically compensate for same which would permit the various activities to proceed, and designate such a day as harvest day holiday; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8054/01]

I have no plans to seek Government approval to create an extra public holiday later in the year to compensate for the cancellation of events and activities surrounding this year's St. Patrick's Day.

I am conscious that the cancellation of events and activities associated with St. Patrick's Day will take somewhat from the public holiday. The cancellation of many public events and activities at this time is a necessary part of the Government's overall strategy to prevent the introduction of foot and mouth disease into Ireland. This approach has the widespread support of the Irish public who recognise that the long-term economic benefits of keeping out foot and mouth disease far outweigh the short-term pain of the cancellation of events and activities associated with the celebration of St. Patrick's Day. Accordingly, I feel that on balance a muted celebration of St. Patrick's Day on this one exceptional occasion will be a small price to pay if it contributes to the success of our efforts to prevent this dreadful disease from spreading to our country.