Fine Gael MEP Colm Markey has called on the Government to introduce a new bank holiday later this year to thank volunteers for their tireless efforts during the COVID-10 pandemic. The proposal comes during National Volunteering Week and coincides with a vote in the European Parliament to approve a new EU volunteering programme for young people.
As many as three out of every four people volunteered in Ireland in some way during the pandemic according to an Ipsos MRBI survey commissioned by Volunteer Ireland.
The Midlands-North-West MEP said they deserve to be recognised.
“We’ve seen people going out of their way to collect groceries or prescriptions for vulnerable neighbours, doing someone’s cleaning or gardening, befriending those who were lonely, walking pets as well as making masks and other PPE gear. This informal volunteering at local level is admirable and demonstrates the good will and community spirit, which exists right across the country. I think these people deserve our thanks.”
Colm Markey added that an extra bank holiday would give the Irish public a well-earned break.
“Ireland has nine public holidays which is among the lowest out of EU countries. An extra holiday this year is being looked at and I would encourage the Government to think about dedicating it to volunteers. It would also offer a much-needed boost to the hospitality and retail sectors and give the wider population something to look forward to, after such a difficult year. Perhaps next year we can consider whether a National Volunteer Day can be in place on a permanent basis.”
He concluded by welcoming the European Parliament’s approval of the European Solidarity Corps 2021-2027, the EU’s first stand-alone volunteering programme with its own budget (€1bn).
“This new programme offers exciting opportunities to some 275,000 young people across the EU. They can apply to volunteer for between two and twelve months in any EU country and a handful of others outside the bloc. It gives young people the chance to help address societal and humanitarian challenges and develop valuable skills. I’d encourage any young Irish person with an interest in volunteering to get involved.”