Northern Ireland along with the Republic of Ireland might find themselves at distinct time zones on either side of the boundary, peers have stated. The European Parliament last year supported a proposal that would put an end to the twice-yearly shifting of the clocks to accommodate extra daylight hours.

According to an EU directive, all 27 states now switch to summertime on the final Sunday of March, reverting to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) on the last Sunday of October – a pattern the UK follows.

However, under a possible swap by Brussels into a”double summer time” arrangement, Lords have cautioned that the Prime Minister’s Withdrawal Agreement might see Northern Ireland legally obliged to become one hour beforehand for six months every year.

It would mean 1.8 million people would continue to follow along with summer time hours – even if those in Great Britain have fallen back an hour in the autumn.

Northern Ireland may find itself compelled to fall in with Brussels regulations if the EU does indeed adopt double-summer period – since the agreement hammered out between the UK and the EU implies Northern Ireland is committed to following EU rules on goods and agriculture in order to protect against a hard border.

Any change in timekeeping would use to Ireland and, peers have stated, as based on the terms of the PM’s divorce treaty, Northern Ireland may need to follow suit.

In its name, Clock changes: Why is it time for change? , the Lords’ EU internal market sub-committee cautioned:”Were this proposal (for double summer time) to become EU law under its current single market legal basis, Northern Ireland may be authorised under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement along with the protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland to align with the EU and thus institute a time boundary together with Great Britain.”

The group of cross-party peers urged the Government to”give barbarous further consideration” into the impact the Brexit agreement could have if the EU decided to produce the summertime switch permanent.

They included:”Our inquiry has demonstrated that any such conclusion at EU level would have consequences for the UK, agreeing UK withdrawal from the EU.

“The significance and nature of these implications isn’t, but well known – not least by the Government”

Committee chairwoman Baroness Donaghy said there was even a possibility of Ireland being in a situation where it has different time-zones on each side of the border.

She added:”So far the Government has stuck its head in the sand to the EU Commission’s proposal, hoping it goes away.

“However, if it does not, we could be caught unaware and unprepared to make a determination, leaving the island of Ireland with two time zones at different times of the year and causing problems for people and businesses at Northern Ireland.”

The report, published today, praised ministers'”casual engagement” with counterparts in Northern Ireland on the problem, but pushed to get a more detailed inspection to take place.

Peers have recommended reviewing research carried out in countries that have different time zones so as to recognize the probable implications of time zone changes for both national and global businesses.

Business minister Kelly Tolhurst, giving evidence to the committee last year, said:”Anything that would create a time boundary in Northern Ireland we are compared to, and so is the Irish authorities.”

The proposal to scrap the time-switch that was bi-annual across the Continent derived from a citizens’ forum completed from the EU.

The consultation, completed if the UK was still a member, received 4.6 million responses, 84 percent of which were in favour of abolishing the clock shift practice.


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