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Last Updated: Monday, 29 November, 2004, 16:05 GMT
Canavan seeks day for St Andrew
Dennis Canavan with saltire
Dennis Canavan wants to see a St Andrews Day holiday
An MSP is taking the campaign to make St Andrew's Day a national holiday to the Scottish Parliament.

Independent politician Dennis Canavan is proposing a backbench bill to make 30 November a day of Scotland-wide celebration.

Mr Canavan said he already had cross-party support for the proposal from more than 50 MSPs.

But Enterprise Minister Jim Wallace warned that a holiday on 30 November may affect businesses before Christmas.

Mr Canavan wants a public holiday which would stand as a "celebration of Scotland's multi-cultural and multi-ethnic traditions".

He wants to see MSPs in Scotland's devolved parliament take the initiative and introduce a new public holiday.

Trade unionists and church representatives have given their backing to the campaign.

It was revealed last week that three quarters of those questioned in a survey for Scottish whisky distiller, The Glenlivet, also backed the move.

A similar poll of 1,000 people in 2001 showed 68% support, suggesting growing approval of the idea.

Church backing

Mr Canavan said: "Scotland is one of the few countries in the world which does not have a national holiday.

"We are also at the bottom of the European league in terms of the number of public holidays.

"St Andrew is our patron saint and also an international figure, a unifying figure and therefore I think the celebration of St Andrew's Day could be a national celebration of Scotland's identity."

Mr Canavan said a bank holiday was the nearest thing Scotland had to a national holiday and he hoped the Scottish Parliament would respond positively to the appeal.

It has the backing of Cardinal Keith O'Brien, head of the Catholic Church in Scotland, who said the country's patron saint had been "taken for granted".

However, the idea is traditionally resisted by sections of the business community who fear it could damage trade and believe there are already sufficient public holidays.

And Mr Wallace said he was "unconvinced" by those who want to create a public holiday.

"I have more sympathy for the case made by the business community that creating an extra holiday, particularly if it falls in the middle of the week, could be disruptive," he said.

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