Year-round summertime would see Ireland begin winter days in darkness

Businesses and schools to open and close in darkness for months if EU ends clock change

An extra hour of daylight in winter would see energy costs and carbon emissions fall. Photograph: Brian Snyder/Reuters

An extra hour of daylight in winter would see energy costs and carbon emissions fall. Photograph: Brian Snyder/Reuters

 

Since the foundation of the State, politicians have spent a considerable amount of time clock-watching, particularly in 1923 when Britain brought in daylight saving time – or summertime – and politicians here were conflicted on taking the same leap out of the dark.

Speaking in favour of the switch, senator James Douglas warned that having a different time zone to the North would harden partition, but senator Maurice Moore was having none of it. “I regret that an Irish government should follow in the footsteps of an English government,” he fumed and said the change would be “just to please a few lazy fellows in the towns who will not get up early”.

But we got daylight saving time nonetheless. And it may now be with us for keeps. If it is, what difference will it make?

At the height of summer after the clocks have gone forward, the sun doesn’t go down on Galway Bay until close to 11.30pm. If summertime is year round, the sun won’t rise in the west on the winter solstice until at least 9.40am.

Children would start school in darkness in the dead of winter and shops and offices would be opening and closing their doors in darkness for two or three months each year. That could lead to a spike in morning road collisions but the extra light in the evenings should see a reduction.

Energy costs

An extra hour of daylight in winter would see energy costs and carbon emissions fall, while a grand stretch in wintertime evenings could motivate people to get out more and make outdoor pursuits possible for longer each year.

The service industry might benefit from brighter evenings as people may be more inclined to leave their homes in search of ways to spend money.

There would be less disruption to our circadian rhythms. The start of summertime has a big impact on body clocks and tiredness is inevitable as people lose an hour in bed.

Studies have linked the lack of sleep at the start of summertime to more traffic collisions, workplace injuries, suicide and miscarriages, while the sudden onset of early-evening gloom when summertime ends at the end of October has been linked to depression.

Farmers would have to work more of their day in darkness, although technological advances in recent years, including better lighting and more indoor farming, mean it wouldn’t make quite as much difference as it once did.

While the European Union moves to make it summertime all the time, it might want to look to the east. In 2014, Russia moved to permanent wintertime after experimenting with permanent summertime and deciding that the move had created stress and health problems, particularly in northern Russia where longer, darker mornings were said to be too much to deal with.