Did you guess the culprit? Yes, it is elements of the Catholic education sector in West Belfast.
As reported in today’s Andersonstown News (not online yet) at least four schools in West Belfast will be expecting pupils to attend class on St Patrick’s Day. This year the Saint’s day falls during ‘Holy Week’ and the rules say no Saints days are to be celebrated, instead there is an unofficial St Patrick’s Day on Saturday. Why unofficial? The rules say no moving a Saint’s Day. This all means the 17th is not a Holy Day of Obligation and the schools have decided to remain open.
For those who think St Patrick’s Day is about much more than religious observance (if that), who believe it is an important family occasion, a National day of importance, a day for developing and maintaining Irish identity and culture the decision has provoked outrage.
Does this raise broader questions about how the Nation celebrates identity and culture in 21st century Ireland? Is it possible to have a truly inclusive and secular National day?
(btw: my son won’t be going to school)