No need to legislate for brighter evenings – just get up an hour earlier, says Shatter
Benefits of change: fewer road deaths, less depression and reduced energy costs, says TD
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter: “Realistically Ireland is not going to put itself in a different time zone to Northern Ireland or the UK.” Photograph: Eric Luke
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has rejected the principle of a Bill to move the clocks forward by an hour to make evenings brighter year round.
He said legislation was not necessary to have an extra hour of daylight in the evenings rather than the mornings. “This could be achieved by getting up, going to work and finishing work an hour earlier,” the Minister suggested, saying this was common practice in Norway and Sweden.
He also said: “Realistically Ireland is not going to put itself in a different time zone to Northern Ireland or the UK.” Mr Shatter agreed, however, to have the brighter evenings Bill referred to the justice committee for further discussion.
Labour TD Tommy Broughan, who introduced the Bill, said it should be adopted on an experimental basis for three years. Ireland would then be in the central European time zone along with 18 other EU member states.
He said moving the clock forward would have very positive benefits, including reduced road fatalities because early evening was the most dangerous time for road deaths. It would also mean improved general health because of reduced levels of seasonally affective disorder (Sad) and increased vitamin D levels, as Ireland has one of the highest rates of deficiency of vitamin D in the world.
He also said it would mean reduced energy costs, improved tourism opportunities, more recreation time and a reduction in crime. “There is a higher likelihood of crimes, particularly assaults and sexual offences, being committed during the hours of darkness.”
Mr Broughan’s Bill requires the Minister to publish an independent report on the costs and benefits of moving the clock forward. It would also take account of the impact of on Northern Ireland.
The Dublin North East TD said that while Britain had last year rejected a Bill to move the clock forward it was still a live issue. He acknowledged it would be best to move with Britain and if its view changed, Ireland should be ready to move with full knowledge of the costs, benefits and impact.
Fianna Fáil transport spokesman Timmy Dooley rejected the Bill over concerns about the impact, if out of sync with Britain, on industry, trade and communications. But Mr Broughan said, “we have a different currency”.
Sinn Féin also opposed the Bill because “it does not make sense to have different time zones in the 26 counties and the six counties,” said Sligo-North Leitrim TD Michael Colreavy. There had been “too much of a border for too long and we don’t wish to have a border imposed by time management measurement”.