LEGISLATION THAT COULD see the country joining the likes of France and Germany in observing Central European Time is now with the Oireachtas Justice Committee, and the TD who introduced it is calling for the panel’s chairman to address the issue before next summer.
Dublin North East Deputy Tommy Broughan’s Brighter Evenings Bill would require Justice Minister Alan Shatter to produce a report on the pros and cons of Ireland changing its timezone.
At the moment, Ireland, the UK and Portugal operate on Greenwich Mean Time, and Greenwich Mean Time +1 in the summer. Under Broughan’s plan, we would move to GMT +1 in the winter, and GMT +2 in the summer.
Broughan maintains the plan would gain over 300 hours of ‘useful’ light for Ireland a year, and he’s calling for a report on the potential benefits of the change to be drawn up by groups like Met Éireann, the Road Safety Authority, Enterprise Ireland and the Department of Agriculture.
He says the change would help a large number of people who are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder, and that it would also help from a health and recreation point of view, as people would have more time in the evenings to go out walking or playing sports
Minister Shatter poured cold water on the idea when it was raised in the Dáil back in July, saying that trade links with Britain could be jeopardised by the move. He said that if the objective was an extra hour of daylight in the evenings “this could be achieved without legislation by getting up, going to work and finishing work an hour earlier”.
With the clocks set to go back by an hour overnight tonight, TheJournal.ie decided to check in with Broughan to check on progress.
“The idea would be to get these interested groups – like Met Éireann – to come before the committee to discuss it.
Broughan said there was a long list of legislation set to go before the committee in the coming months, but that he would seek to have the Bill discussed before the summer.
“There’s clear benefits. The idea that we couldn’t move because of Britain I don’t know if it holds up; Portugal and Spain have different timezones and that hasn’t been a problem”
“I’ve had suggestions that we could just have a shortening of the season — move the hour back closer to Christmas, and forward again maybe in February. I’d still be pushing for the full change”
“You can see the benefits. It hasn’t been that bad this year, but when you think about how miserable it was last year… It would cheer the whole country up.
A campaign in the UK has called on their government to implement the change, but a bill to enact that change has been in limbo since last year. Campaigners there say that the bill would boost tourism and save half a million tonnes in carbon emissions.
Additional reporting by Paul Hosford.