UUP and Sinn Fein oppose proposals for new RoI time zone

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Proposals in Dublin to move the Republic of Ireland to a different time zone are “ludicrous”, a former Ulster Unionist leader has said.

The Dail is consulting the public on a Brighter Evenings Bill, which would allow the Republic’s justice minister, who is responsible for time, to report on the costs and benefits of moving the Republic to the Central European Time Zone.

If the bill is passed as it currently stands, the minister would also be able to move the Republic’s time forward by an hour for a three-year trial period, and then make the move permanent if he believed it had been beneficial.

Supporters of the move argue that it could lead to reduced road deaths, increased vitamin D levels and less energy consumption.

Last year Sinn Fein spoke out against the move, with Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA Phil Flanagan denouncing it as a “ridiculous” proposal which goes against his party’s push for greater all-island harmonisation.

Now fellow Fermanagh MLA Tom Elliott has also strongly opposed the proposal, saying that the British Isles should remain under a single time zone.

The UUP MLA said: “We have the likes of Belcoo in Fermanagh and Blacklion in Cavan which are essentially the same settlement divided by the border.

“You cross a bridge between the two, and if these plans went ahead, you would be stepping into a different time zone.

“Then there is Belleek which is split across the border. The proposed change would affect dozens of border towns in Northern Ireland equating to thousands of people.

“What about traders and bank transfers for people living in border areas? It doesn’t appear that much thought has been given to how this proposal might affect them at all. It seems ludicrous.”