No-deal Brexit could lead to two time zones on island of Ireland next year

No-deal Brexit could lead to two time zones on island of Ireland next year

Update 7.11pm: Two time zones may exist on the island of Ireland by April next year if the UK leaves the EU without a deal as part of the crisis-hit Brexit negotiations.

A Government spokesperson said the situation could happen after cabinet was briefed on EU plans to remove the existing daylight savings time system across the common market from spring 2019.

Under plans put forward by the European Commission earlier this year, Brussels wants to remove the "spring forward, fall back" hour difference across the EU by 2021.

No-deal Brexit could lead to two time zones on island of Ireland next year

Should the policy be accepted the move will be mandatory from April 2019, with a two year phasing in period where countries will have to give six months' notice before changing their times before the plan is fully introduced.

At Tuesday's weekly cabinet meeting Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan detailed the initiative, which is designed to benefit business and improve road safety across the common market, to ministerial colleagues.

He added that a public consultation process - the exact time for which has not been outlined - will also be put in place before the planned April start date for the move.

However, asked what impact the decision may have on Northern Ireland and the Republic given the unclear Brexit outcome for the province, a senior Government spokesperson was unable to say if a solution will be found.

Despite saying "I think it would be a Government objective to not have two time zones on the island of Ireland", he was unable to guarantee that both Belfast and Dublin will remain in the same time zone in the event of a crash-out no deal Brexit which takes Northern Ireland fully out of the EU.

While the issue has been seen as humorous by some, any time zone split on the island of Ireland would further underline the fact that Northern Ireland and the Republic are different jurisdictions at an extremely sensitive period.

It would also impact on business operations on the border and across the border, and lead to further difficulties for farmers and other people living in the surrounding area.

It is understood that during Tuesday's cabinet meeting, Climate Change Minister Denis Naughten said there is a need for research on "comparable countries" showing how the time change may or may not benefit different populations.

Meanwhile, the cabinet meeting also saw Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe detail the latest exchequer figures before next week's budget.

Transport Minister Shane Ross brought forward a still unpublished report by accountants Ernst & Young on financial matters at Waterford airport and separate figures from Tourism Ireland showing the country has seen more people travel to this country for the seventh year running.

Earlier: Public to be asked about scrapping daylight savings

Update 6.32pm: The public and interested groups are to be asked whether or not they agree with scrapping daylight savings time.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan is today bringing a memo before the cabinet for sign-off on the consultation.

The move would see people asked whether the changing of the clocks in autumn and spring each year should be removed in favour of permanent summertime or wintertime.

It comes after a public consultation across the EU found the majority of people were in favour of abolishing the bi-annual clock change.

The change would come into force in March next year once each member state agrees on the proposal.

Digital Desk

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