Sunday 22 July 2018

Two Irish politicians begin battle to stop clocks being turned back in the autumn

Fine Gael MEP Deirdre Clune. Picture: Steve Humphreys
Fine Gael MEP Deirdre Clune. Picture: Steve Humphreys

Alan O'Keeffe

A battle to abolish 'winter time' and end the ritual of turning clocks back in October is being fought by two Irish MEPs and other members of the European Parliament.

Fine Gael MEPs Sean Kelly and Deirdre Clune are working to change a European Commission directive that dictates that clocks change in spring and autumn.

Both Irish MEPs are convinced there are strong health grounds for ensuring brighter longer daytime hours during winter evenings.

Halting the turning back of clocks would allow people to exercise, play sports and enjoy the outdoors for longer during winter evenings.

Sean Kelly, a former president of the GAA, said: "I never liked the clock changes as winter came in overnight and that was the end of outdoor activity.

"In the GAA, you couldn't have any evening matches until the time was changed again in the spring," he said.

He is part of a cross-party working group of MEPs seeking to get the European Parliament to vote to get the commission to scrap the time-change directive.

"Turning clocks back leads to an awful lot of difficulties, for light sleepers and many others. It takes people with autism weeks to adapt to the new time.

"In the US, there are 100,000 road accidents in the two weeks after clocks change. And more wild animals are killed on roads because they did not adapt to changing traffic patterns," he said.

Deirdre Clune said mental and physical health would be safeguarded by ending the clock changes. Darker evenings affect some people's mental health.

She is a member of the parliament's transport committee which is working to bring about change.

"The commission is carrying out a study across Europe in terms of energy savings. You would not be turning on the lights so soon.

"Traditionally, it was there for children going to school in the mornings. But there are more street lights now, children are driven to school, and there is school transport," she said. She hopes progress will be made in coming weeks.

Irish Independent

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