Government resisted EU move to put clocks back earlier
Published 31/12/2011 | 05:00
THE government successfully resisted an EU proposal on the length of summer time that would have seen the clocks go back an hour two weeks earlier every October.
Files show that the EU Commission was anxious to introduce a common summer time in the union.
This was in order to "improve the efficiency of transport, communications, commerce and contacts generally between member states". If adopted it would have seen the clocks go back in Ireland as early as the second Sunday in October.
However, several government departments objected to the proposal because of its effect on energy usage and on tourism. There were also fears that if Ireland agreed to such a proposal but the UK refused, as it was threatening to do, we would then operate on a different time zone from our nearest neighbours.
"We have traditionally (save for a very short period) followed the United Kingdom's decisions in this matter," says a briefing note from the Department of Justice. "The public were consulted. . . and the majority were in favour of maintaining the link."
The Department of Industry and Energy said that a loss of a few weeks' summer time in October would increase electricity consumption by 0.1pc a week because of "earlier lighting up time". This would cost £50,000 (€187,500 in 2011 terms) in extra oil usage each week.
The Department of Trade Commerce and Tourism said the loss of three or four weeks' summer time each year "will be wasteful in that during those weeks darkness will fall earlier in the evenings, and in the mornings visitors who rise at the normal hour will miss an hour's daylight".
The government ultimately agreed to resist the EU proposal for "as long as possible". No details of the subsequent negotiations are included in the file, but the proposal was never adopted and the clock continues to be turned back one hour on the last weekend in October.