Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

Longer evenings? Get up earlier

A proposed Brighter Evenings Bill would put Ireland in a zone along with most of Europe by moving clocks forward by one hour

Anyone who wants longer, brighter evenings should get out of bed earlier, Justice Minister Alan Shatter has said.

Amid renewed calls for a switch to Central European Time, the minister said supporters of the move should adopt the Scandinavian practice of early starts.

Mr Shatter was being urged to swap the traditional "spring forward, fall back" clock change for a three-year trial.

The Brighter Evenings Bill, proposed by Tommy Broughan TD, would put Ireland in a zone along with most of Europe by moving clocks forward by one hour. If the switch had happened this year, it would have meant sunrise in Sligo on Christmas Day would be as late as 9.54am while sunset on the June 21 summer solstice would have been as late as 11.12pm.

But Mr Shatter suggested a lifestyle change could allow as much of a longer evening.

"If the aim is to have an extra hour of daylight in the evening, rather than the mornings, this could be achieved without legislation by getting up, going to work and finishing work an hour earlier - which I understand is common practice in Norway and Sweden," he said.

Mr Shatter said trade and business links with Britain were too important to risk jeopardising in a move from the standard time regime. He said: "Realistically, Ireland is not going to put itself in a different time zone to Northern Ireland or the UK."

The proposed legislation called for a report on the costs and benefits of moving clocks forward one hour and then a three-year trial when time will be one hour ahead. Ireland, the UK and Portugal operate on the same time at present - Greenwich Mean Time, and Greenwich Mean Time +1 in the summer.

"When considering which time zone we should select, it is evident that we should take into consideration the implications of Ireland being, for example, one hour ahead of Northern Ireland," Mr Shatter said. "However, we must also consider what is happening in the UK as a whole, not least because we have the same time arrangements, they are our biggest trading partner and we share a border with Northern Ireland."

Mr Shatter said researching the effects of a time zone switch on Ireland would be expensive and unjustified. A similar idea was defeated in the UK early last year. Ireland last experimented with time zones in 1968/71 when it was preparing for accession to the then European Economic Community and kept the country on GMT+1 all year round.

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