Sunday 20 October 2019

'I could not countenance two time zones on this island,' says Taoiseach


Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Picture: PA
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Picture: PA
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Two different time zones on the island is not something the Government wants to countenance in the event that daylight savings is scrapped by the EU, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.

However, the Government does not yet have an official position on the European Parliament's move to end the seasonal changing of the clocks.

Earlier this week MEPs overwhelmingly voted to scrap daylight savings time in the EU.

The United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland, is not committed to the change in 2021 - which raises the possibility of the clocks being different in Newry and Dundalk.

Under the current system, all 28 EU member states switch to summer time on the last Sunday of March, which is this coming weekend, and back to winter time on the last Sunday of October.

In the Dáil, Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin noted that the UK is intent on maintaining the current system.

"What is Ireland's position on this matter? Ireland will be in a difficult position as the UK will be leaving the EU," he said.

Mr Varadkar replied: "It is a good question. I was pondering this myself yesterday when I was reading the report from the European Parliament.

"The truth is that the Government has not taken a position on it yet, nor have we discussed it."

The Taoiseach said he would like to know the views of other parties in Leinster House, and even suggested they could experiment with indicative votes similar to what the House of Commons is using to try break the Brexit deadlock.

"It would not kick in until April 2021 anyway, so we have plenty of time to make this decision, no pun intended," he said.

"One thing about which the deputy is absolutely right is that I could not and certainly would not wish to countenance a situation whereby Northern Ireland was in a different time zone from the rest of Ireland."

Irish Independent

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