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22/10/2009, Ireland - "Ryan backs research into Ireland joining European central time", Irish Times

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Ryan backs timely research

A senior Government minister tonight said the idea of Ireland and Britain joining European central time was worthy of consideration.

The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Eamon Ryan, called for research that would shed light on the potential benefits and pitfalls of both countries turning the clocks one hour ahead.

“It’s a very interesting proposal, worthy of consideration and Irish-based research,” he said.

Officials in his departments stressed all research carried out to date was from the US or mainland Europe.

They warned global differences in sunlight would have to be taken into account before any such moves in Ireland.

They also said the idea appeared to make sense for peak time energy use, but the effect on the morning hours would have to be closely measured.

Mr Ryan was responding to calls from supermarket tycoon- turned senator Fergal Quinn, who claims his campaign for a permanent switch to European time has support among both Irish and British parliamentarians.

Senator Quinn admitted while such a move could save on energy usage in the evening it would mean an extra hour of darkness in the morning, particularly during the winter.

“But for most of the year that wouldn’t affect the population,” he insisted.

“We would save so much in energy and electricity, it would do so much for tourism with daylight until 11pm at night during the summer, and there would be business benefits with being linked into the same time as Europe.”

The independent senator claimed a trial in the 1960s was thwarted by complaints from Scots farmers that their cows weren’t used to being milked at a different time.

Since then the idea has resurfaced a few times, and in the 1990s the proposal was supported by 100 British MPs, but a shadow fell over the campaign when Portugal left central European time to join the UK and Ireland, he said.

“The big advantage of course is that we could all play golf an extra hour in the afternoon,” he added.

The timely suggestion comes ahead of Sunday morning’s traditional turning back of the clocks, which officially marks the start of Winter Time in Ireland and the end of British Summer Time.

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