Politics on the East Pier
The May bank holiday was an initiative of the Labour Party in government back in 1993. It marks May Day, which has long been celebrated as international workers’ day.
The world of work is changing rapidly. Many people nowadays have little or no “switch-off” time because even after normal working hours they are for example seeing emails pop up on their phones. It is becoming more and more difficult to achieve what the 19th century social reformer Robert Owen sought in his famous slogan: “Eight hours’ labour, Eight hours’ recreation, Eight hours’ rest”
We all benefit from time with family and friends, time for recreation, time to contribute to our communities, and time away from work to recharge the batteries. European measures like the Working Time Directive have ensured that workers have guaranteed rest periods, maximum working hours, and decent holidays. We should extend these rights. Ireland has one of the least number of public holidays in the European Union. A new public holiday to celebrate the achievements of the European Union would be a great idea.
I’m afraid I didn’t take my own advice today to fully observe the holiday. Instead I spent time on the campaign trail with Juliet O’Connell, one of our two great candidates in Dun Laoghaire. Lots of banter at the East Pier!