Scottish cardinal challenges government to make St. Andrew’s national holiday

Scotland is debating whether it should legislate another public holiday, and a Scottish cardinal is suggesting that it be on St. Andrew’s Day.

Keith Cardinal O’Brien says St. Andrew’s Day would unite people of all faiths, and he has challenged the First Minister, Jack McConnell, to test the issue with a consultation process. “I am sure those of other faiths would welcome the patronage of St. Andrew,” whom he describes as “a unifying force” all over the world, he says.

In fact, his suggestion has found agreement among representatives from the Church of Scotland, the Muslim Council of Britain and the Scottish Episcopal Church.

But the Scottish Executive has rejected the principle of a holiday on St. Andrew’s Day, with McConnell proposing that celebrations from next year are “themed”, starting with the concept of “One Scotland, Many Cultures.”

Dennis Canavan MSP will table his own three-month consultation on turning Nov. 30 into a public holiday. He says he has support from a host of organizations and a cross-party section of 50 MSPs.

The idea of another public holiday has found opposition from the Federation of Small Businesses and the CBI, who are afraid that it might have adverse economic effects.

“I know that big business may not be happy at the thought, but whatever they lost they would more than make up in enthusiasm and spirit when people returned to work,” says the cardinal.

“And from big business to the ordinary, working people, everyone would benefit from having a day in the darkness of winter to recharge their batteries and think of Scottishness and nationhood,” he argues.

Scotland has the fewest public holidays in Europe with only seven. Many European countries have as many as 14.

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