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Could Ireland move to the same time zone as central Europe?

No, it’s not part of the EU deal – but the Department of Enterprise has said there would be ‘definite benefits’ to joining France and Germany an hour ahead…

Image: Steve-h via Flickr

AN OIREACHTAS COMMITTEE is set to consider proposals to change Ireland’s time zone, and align our clocks with France and Germany.

A representative of the Department of Jobs and Enterprise told TDs and Senators there would be ‘definite benefits’ to moving all our clocks forward by one hour, both summer and winter.

The move would put Ireland on Central European time – the zone shared by European countries from as far west as Spain to as far east as Poland and Serbia.

Proposals were debated by Oireachtas members and other representatives after a similar measure was proposed in the UK’s House of Commons.

Civil servant Gerry Wrynn said the view of the Department of Enterprise was that there would be “definite trade benefits” to the move, especially if the UK also changed time zone.

Some 45 per cent of our exports go to countries in the European time zone. When this is combined with the 17 per cent of our exports to Britain, it means 62 per cent of our exports go to countries which are using or might use Central European Time,” he said. “One hour’s difference might not seem much, but it would make life easier for exporters.”

‘Tourism boost’

However, he said that the Department has not yet undertaken its own research on the subject.

According to the Sunday Times, any final move would be a decision for the Department of Justice.

Jim Curran, a spokesperson for business group ISME, also supported the proposal. He said sport and leisure facilities would see a boost from the extra hour of evening daylight in winter, with potential benefits also for the tourism industry.

He said the measure could also help cut crime, which he said currently costs small businesses around €590million annually.

“Research carried out by the British Home Office indicates that if the clocks were moved forward, it would reduce the level of crime in the United Kingdom by three per cent,” he said.

“If one were to apply a reduction of three per cent to the figure of €590 million, it would represent a significant saving for small companies.”

Fine Gael TD David Stanton said the committee meeting was “just the beginning of the debate”.

More: Ireland won’t scrap Summer Time – unless we get EU support>

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Michael Freeman

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