Cllr. Éilis RyanThe Workers’ Party has proposed a new public holiday to compensate bar and off licence workers for the proposed end to the Good Friday alcohol ban. The proposal comes in response to legislation introduced today (Tuesday, April 11th) in Seanad Éireann by a number of independent Senators.

Councillor Éilis Ryan (Workers’ Party) said that while the Party welcomed any expansion of secularism in Ireland, the impact of a lifting of the Good Friday ban could be negative for workers in bars and off licences, saying:

The Workers’ Party wants a truly secular republic, and this includes getting rid of the historic influence of the catholic church on our licensing laws. However, we must ensure that this does not lead to lower holiday entitlements for workers.

We are already seeing workers a gradual but persistent erosion of compensation for Sunday and public holiday working hours. These changes affect low paid retail and hospitality staff most.

Councillor Ryan also drew attention to the selective application of secular values, saying:

Our government, businesses and employers, and indeed the senators in question, have not been so vocal in calling for the Catholic Church’s influence to be removed from our healthcare and education systems.

If these changes were really driven by a concern with secularism, the first priorities should be the repeal of the 8th amendment and the full removal of the Church from our education system.

The councillor said that a new public holiday should be instated in place of the Good Friday ban, concluding:

Ireland has one of the lowest number of public holidays in Europe. A new public holiday be introduced which would ensure all workers receive either a day off, or proper compensation for working that day, if and when the Good Friday ban is lifted.

Secularising our country should not come at the expense of workers’ pockets.