Taoiseach will not ‘countenance’ different time zones on island of Ireland

Varadkar to get Dáil view after EU Parliament vote to end daylight savings times

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has told the Dáil he will not “countenance” Northern Ireland being in a different time zone to the rest of Ireland. Video: Oireachtas TV

 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has told the Dáil he will not “countenance” Northern Ireland being in a different time zone to the rest of Ireland.

He was responding to Labour leader Brendan Howlin who highlighted the vote by the European Parliament to end daylight saving time from April 2021.

MEPs voted by 410 to 192 to abolish the twice yearly clock change, forward by one hour at the end of March and back again at the end of October.

Mr Howlin said Ireland would be in a difficult position because the UK would be leaving the EU.

He warned that “there is the possibility of having two different time zones on the island of Ireland, as the UK has already declared it does not intend to switch from its current system”.

The move has to be approved by the European Council of EU leaders and the Labour leader asked how Ireland would be voting.

The Taoiseach told him in the Dáil that he had been “pondering” the issue himself when he read the European parliament report.

He said the Government “has not taken a position on it yet, nor have we discussed it”.

Mr Varadkar said he would like to know the views of the House and suggested a debate, quipping that “maybe a few indicative votes might be worth experimenting with”.

There was “plenty of time” to consider the issue because of the 2021 deadline. But the Taoiseach stressed “I could not and certainly would not wish to countenance a situation whereby Northern Ireland was in a different time zone from the rest of Ireland”.

The issue first arose in September last year when the European Commission made the proposal following an EU-wide survey showed a majority of EU citizens in favour of ending the time change.

A call was made for EU-wide co-ordination on the issue. “No one wants to see a patchwork of time zones within EU,” according to Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc.