Ireland set to oppose EU daylight saving time plans

By Michelle Devane, PA

The Irish government is set to oppose the EU’s plan to end seasonal clock changes to ensure the island of Ireland does not end up with two time zones post-Brexit.

The country’s justice minister Charlie Flanagan said it would be “profoundly serious” if a situation emerged where Northern Ireland and the Republic were in two different time zones.

He made the comment after the country’s Cabinet ministers agreed on Wednesday not to support the EU’s proposals to abolish daylight saving time.

Member states have to decide this year whether they want to choose permanent summer or winter time and end the twice-yearly clock changes.

But if Brexit goes ahead, the UK may not have to adhere to the changes.

There are concerns that if it did not, Northern Ireland could find itself in a different time zone from the Republic for six months of the year.

Minister for justice Charlie Flanagan (Brian Lawless/PA)

Mr Flanagan said: “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.

“I am heartened to note that the Government’s decision today is in agreement with 82% of the public in a representative opinion poll held as part of the consultative process.”

Ministers also shared their concerns that the current EU proposal may result in a “patchwork” of time zones across the EU that could negatively impact the functioning of the single market.

The government made the decision following extensive consultation with government departments and the public.

While it found that the public would generally favour brighter evenings in winter, more than 80% of people surveyed said they were not in favour of any measures that would result in different time zones on the island.

The UK is also opposed to the proposal.

At present, time zones in the EU are solely determined by geographic location on an east to west basis.

The UK and Ireland have shared the same clock times since 1916.