Ireland

Dublin politician calls for the Twelfth to be a public holiday in the Republic

Bandsmen accompany Orange Order members during Twelfth parades across the north.
Bandsmen accompany Orange Order members during Twelfth parades across the north. Bandsmen accompany Orange Order members during Twelfth parades across the north.

A TD has urged the Republic's government to legislate to make the Twelfth a public holiday.

Patrick Costello of the Green Party said the day was an extremely important one historically and culturally for many people.

He said the Irish state had 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," he added. 

"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 Twelfth as a public holiday would be a major step for that process.”

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Belfast hosts one of the biggest Twelfth parades each year. Picture by Niall Carson/PA
Belfast hosts one of the biggest Twelfth parades each year. Picture by Niall Carson/PA Belfast hosts one of the biggest Twelfth parades each year. Picture by Niall Carson/PA

Mr Costello said he also thought there would be economic benefits.

He said: "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 office of public works runs 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.”

Read more: Orange Order lodges applaud the Derry Minor All-Ireland Champions

Aontú deputy leader Gemma Brolly criticised the call.

"Aontú believes in a pluralist Irish Republic where everyone can be who they are to the full extent without fear or favour from the state," she said.

"We understand that there are different identities in Ireland and everyone should be able to pursue their identity in peace and respect. Tolerance is a key element of a peaceful society.

“But many of the people of the north of Ireland will be bemused and shocked at the proposal by Patrick Costello to elevate the Twelfth of July to a public holiday in the south."

Flags and election posters on a bonfire on the Shore Road in north Belfast
Flags and election posters on a bonfire on the Shore Road in north Belfast Flags and election posters on a bonfire on the Shore Road in north Belfast

Ms Brolly said she believed that there were other routes to reconciliation and acceptance.

She said: "We don’t have to dress up in each other’s political clothes to reconcile.

"We don’t have to meld together in some kind of hybrid identity to get along."