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Sunday 21 April 2019

Explainer: What will happen in Ireland (and on the border) if Daylight Saving Time is scrapped?

Stock pic
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The clocks will go forward by an hour on March 31. But the practice of changing our clocks in spring and in autumn - 'spring forward, fall back' - will soon be coming to an end in Europe. What does that mean for us?

What is Daylight Saving Time?

Daylight Saving Time (DST) was introduced in Great Britain and Ireland in May 1916 as a measure to give workers an extra hour of daylight. Throughout World War II the measure was seen as a way to save energy to assist with the war effort.

Clocks are changed twice a year to cater for the changing patterns of daylight and to take advantage of the available daylight in a given period.

A number of countries in the northern hemisphere use DST in the summer time, but it doesn't happen in all countries - less than 40pc of the world use DST.

Get outdoors in natural daylight as much as possible. (stock picture)
Get outdoors in natural daylight as much as possible. (stock picture)

What will the proposed changes mean?

Advocates say that it will mean brighter evenings in the winter. This mainly benefits those working outdoors and those who enjoy outdoor activities or cycle or walk home from work.

Some studies have revealed that DST could lead to fewer road accidents and injuries.

Other research suggests that moving the clock forward and back again affects individual's health - and to scrap the clock changes would only benefit our mental wellbeing.

How was the decision reached and will we stay on 'summertime' or 'wintertime'?

The European Commission held an online poll of citizens to assess whether the changes will be made. The majority (80pc) voted in favour of scrapping DST.

The European Parliament’s Traffic Commission has voted 23 to 11 to abolish daylight savings in the EU, effective 2021. The Council of Member States still require a vote on the matter to get Europe-wide consensus.

It will also require legislation changes by each individual member state and to decide whether to stay on 'summertime' or 'wintertime'.

Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan TD announced that there would be a consultation asking members of the public whether they are in favour of abandoning the current system and, if they are, whether they would prefer to stay constantly on 'summertime' or 'wintertime'.

How will the hour change work on the border?

This is the crux of the matter.

The UK members of the European Parliament's Transport and Tourism Committee also voted to scrap the changes.

However, with Brexit, all bets are off. If after leaving the European Union, the UK opts to retain Daylight Saving Time, they will be perfectly entitled to. This would mean England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will continue to change between Greenwich Mean Time and British Summer Time every year and Ireland would be one hour ahead of the UK throughout the winter months.

These are issues that will have to be ironed out, but MEP Deirdre Clune, one of the supporters of the change said that she believes "common sense will prevail".

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