Want longer evenings? Then get up earlier, says Shatter
Minister calls time on Bill proposing move to Central European Time
Strollers on the strand at Sandymount Co Dublin . Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter is to ask the Oireachtas Justice Committee to receive submissions on proposals for brighter evenings, bringing the State into Central European Time.
The move came during a debate today on Independent TD Tommy Broughan’s private members Bill which proposed that the State would trial moving the clocks forward by an hour.
Mr Shatter said he could “not accept the brighter evenings bill in principle”. He did not think legislation was “necessary” and if the aim was an extra hour in the morning, this could be achieved by “getting up and going to work an hour earlier”.
However Mr Shatter said he would ask the committee to seek submissions on the issue and publish a report.
Mr Shatter said the key issue lay with Northern Ireland and the State having different time zones. He noted that if the model was adopted sunrise in Sligo on Christmas Day 2013 would be at 9.54am while sunset on June 21st would be 11.12pm.
Mr Broughan welcomed Mr Shatter’s proposal and it was agreed to leave the Bill on the floor of the Dáil without voting on it. Mr Broughan accepted that moving time without the UK would be a “very serious challenge” to economy and society. However he said Britain was “very seriously considering” a change of time and Ireland would have to be ready if it “decided to move”.
Mr Broughan has argued that the benefits of the change would be improved quality of life with more time for evening exercise and improved health benefits for people with seasonal affective disorder and increased vitamin D intake. It would improve safety, increasing tourism jobs, lowering energy bills, reducing fear of crime, he said.
“In effect, we would spend more of our waking lives in the light rather than enduring the current long, bleak winter nights. Growing evidence highlights the wide benefits of brighter evenings,” Mr Broughan has written in the Bill’s explanatory memorandum.
The Bill proposed that after undertaking a cost benefit analysis, the Government could introduce it for three years and permanently if needed
Mr Broughan said in both historical arguments against a move , children going to school and work in the agriculture sector, patterns and technological advances have made proposals more possible.
Fine Gael TD David Stanton, who also chairs the Oireachtas justice committee and has previously proposed a similar piece of legislation, said there was “quite an amount of support out there” for the Bill.
Fianna Fail’s Timmy Dooley said the party was opposed to the Bill. Without cooperation with the UK it would have “impractical measures”. There could be the farcical and unsustainable situation where people who work North and south of the border would have to change their watches, he said.
Sinn Féin TD Michael Colreavy quoted Aristotle that “time is the most unknown of all unknown things”. He said “the one thing we cannot do is create new time ….imagine we did have an Oireachtas where we could create time”. He also read a reflective poem on daylight saving times.
Fine Gael TD Jerry Buttimer said the Bill was “hard to oppose” on such a day as the words of the song “Summer time” came to mind.
Mr Broughan’s Bill proposed operation on the Single/Double Summer Time model. This would mean that for the first year of operation the clocks would not go back in October and in March they would be put forward by an hour. After these adjustments, time changes would continue as they currently do.
As a result Ireland would be an hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time in winter and two hours ahead of GMT in summer, in line with Central European Time.
Under an EU directive all member states must start summer time simultaneously so time differences between states remain constant all year.
Changes to clocks were first introduced in the State in1916 to allow farmers to work in the fields. Britain and Ireland conducted an experiment between 1968 and 1971 when all clocks remained at GMT plus one.
The UK discussed a similar Bill last year. However in January last year the Bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament before the end of the session.