July 11th, 1912
FROM THE ARCHIVES:While the 1912 Home Rule Bill sought to distance Ireland from Britain politically, a private members motion in the House of Lords sought to bring the two islands together in time – literally. This editorial commented on the proposal to put Ireland on GMT instead of having its clocks 25 minutes behind England’s. -
Sixty years ago, when Irish interests were a matter of considerably less concern to Great Britain than they are now, someone was inspired to protest against the lack of uniformity between English and Irish time.
Why the anomaly should still exist is a matter which very few Irishmen would care to explain or defend. But it does exist, and yesterday the Earl of Shaftesbury moved in the House of Lords the second reading of a Bill to enact the application of Greenwich time to Ireland.
To-day the volume of public opinion which demands the change is vastly larger than it was sixty years ago. We may, indeed, say that the demand is almost unanimous. A number of public bodies in Ireland have declared in favour of it, particularly the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, which has passed several resolutions on the subject.
The disparity weighs most heavily upon commercial interests; the Dublin Stock Exchange finds itself at a disadvantage in comparison with the English Exchanges. It is no less vexatious in questions of communications.
Greenwich time is applied to all telegrams sent from Ireland at this moment. Lord Inverclyde [a Scottish shipowner and Cunard Line director], who should be something of an authority on the subject, called attention to the opportunities of confusion in log- books which the present system involves. This is an aspect of the case which appeals to everyone who crosses the Channel.
There must be very few people who have not, on some occasion or other, forgotten the discrepancy between the time of the two countries and, missing trains on that account, vented their annoyance on their unfortunate fellow-travellers.
Here is a case where, if an Act of Parliament cannot change human nature, it can, at least, discount this engendering of unnecessary ill humour. Probably another point which Lord Shaftesbury made has not occurred to some people.
The passing of this measure would virtually give Ireland the benefits, without the disadvantages, of Mr. [William] Willett’s evergreen Daylight Saving Bill. But it would have this advantage – that this course is logical and natural, while Mr. Willett’s is not. There is only one argument against Lord Shaftesbury’s proposal, and that is pretty sentimental.
Some adherents of the “Ireland a nation” theory claim that, as a nation, Ireland has a right to her own time. This argument is not only sentimental, but fallacious.
To suggest that, at a time when Ireland’s prosperity is increasing by leaps and bounds, she should be doomed for ever to be twenty- five minutes behind the times is a sublime insult to our nationhood.