Irish to consult on EU proposals to end 'daylight hours'

Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland could end up in different time zones Image copyright Getty Images

The Irish government is to hold a public consultation on EU proposals to end the practice of adjusting clocks by an hour in spring and autumn.

If the change happens, it could lead to Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland being in different time zones for seven months of the year.

The Irish government wants to avoid that.

However, it cannot rule out that it could happen after Brexit.

The commission's proposal requires support from 28 national governments and MEPs to become law.

Member states have the right to decide what time zone they are part of - there are currently three in the EU.

However the European Commission says that it should be an EU decision on whether countries make the summertime clock change within those time zones.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The division of the world's time into different zones has been a messy affair

A situation could arise after Brexit where the EU decides to abolish seasonal clock changes, but the UK could keep them.

That would mean clocks in Northern Ireland would continue to go forward an hour at the end of March and back one hour at the end October, while there are no changes in the Republic.

The current seasonal clock changes are controversial in parts of the EU because there is a big difference in daylight hours experienced by Scandinavia and by southern Europe.

Nordic countries have long, dark nights in winter and short nights in summer. The pattern in the south is more even across the seasons.

There are anomalies too.

For example, neighbours Portugal and Spain are in different time zones, as are Sweden and Finland.

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