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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 March 2006, 13:52 GMT
Poll backs St David's Day holiday
Guto Thomas
By Guto Thomas

BBC Wales political correspondent

Toys dressed for school project at Ysgol Gymraeg Rhyd y Grug, Merthyr
Roland Rat and Teddy dressed by Merthyr pupils for St David's Day
Nearly nine out of 10 people in Wales believe St David's Day should be a public holiday, even if a day's holiday was lost elsewhere, a poll has found.

Of the 1,001 people questioned, 87% said they want 1 March to become a public holiday, with 11% against.

When asked if they would be in favour if it meant another public holiday would be lost, 65% remained in favour, with opposition rising to just 28%.

The poll was conducted for BBC Wales by ICM Research over three days last week.

The poll may provide some food for thought for political leaders in Wales.

Back in July 2004, Welsh Secretary Peter Hain said that the reason the UK Government had not provided a bill to make St David's Day a bank holiday was that the Welsh Assembly Government had failed to prioritise it over and above other requests for new laws.

In February 2005, Mr Hain went further and told the House of Commons that there had been a lack of consultation by the assembly with the business community, adding that "Wales' and England's economies are so integrated that we really need to work this through in considerable detail".

Moreover, he said that an extra Welsh bank holiday could create problems in companies such as the Airbus factory in Broughton, where 40% of the workforce live in England.

In other findings, the poll also reveals that the vast majority of people in Wales would like to celebrate St David's Day with roast Welsh lamb (47%) or roast Welsh beef (22%) - with only 1% looking forward to bowl of traditional Welsh cawl.

Olympic team

But this gastronomic patriotism does not extend to knowledge of the Welsh anthem.

On its 150th anniversary, just 28% said they knew all the words to "Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau", with 18% admitting they did not know any of them at all.

But perhaps the most remarkable statistic generated by this poll is that 70% of respondents believe that Wales should be part of a British football team at the Olympic Games.

And although this could be dismissed by some as a light-hearted question, it does seem to suggest that the nature of what defines Welshness in 2006 is more complex now than ever.




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