Government opposes moves to end seasonal clock changes for Ireland

Having two different time zones north and south of the Border would cause significant problems after Brexit, says Minister

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan: ‘It would be profoundly serious if two different time zones were to exist on the island of Ireland.’  Photograph:  Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan: ‘It would be profoundly serious if two different time zones were to exist on the island of Ireland.’ Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

 

The Government has decided not to end the long-standing practice of changing the clocks twice a year because it would result in different time zones in Ireland after Brexit.

The Cabinet yesterday approved Minister for Justice Charles Flanagan’s decision to oppose the European Union’s proposal to end seasonal clock changes.

He said the practice of daylight saving time would continue where clocks are put back by an hour at the end of October and then put forward at the end of March.

Mr Flanagan said the principal reason for not supporting the change was the situation that would arise after Brexit where the UK, including Northern Ireland, would be in a different time zone for seven months of the year.

“While I acknowledge that many favour ending the practice of seasonal clock changes, the proposal is not a straightforward one.  

“It would be profoundly serious if two different time zones were to exist on the island of Ireland, creating significant unnecessary problems for people living on the Border and for the all-island economy,” he said.

The Government decision also relied on a public consultation process, including an opinion poll.

Of the 1,000 respondents to the poll, 66 per cent were in favour of abolishing the biannual clock change. But four out of every five people said they would oppose the change if it were to result in a different time zones north and south of the Border.

Final approval

Eighty-four per cent were of the view that it would be preferable to have an extra hour of daylight in the evenings in winter.

The standard time in Ireland is winter time – which lasts from October 31st to March 31st – and the arrangement has been in place since 1916.

The European Parliament voted on March 26th for a proposal to allow states to choose their own standard time.

However, this is not a final decision as the EU Council of heads of state still needs to give its final approval.

The British government has given no indication as to its position on the matter. With the likelihood it will retain its current arrangement of switching the clocks twice a year after Brexit, it would mean the UK would be in a different time zone than Ireland for seven months of the year.