THE taoiseach has said he would not want a situation to arise where Northern Ireland was in a different time zone to the Republic.
Leo Varadkar was speaking after the European Parliament backed a proposal to stop the obligatory one-hour clock change which extends daylight hours in summer EU-wide.
Asked yesterday about the implications, Mr Varadkar said: “I could not and certainly would not want to countenance a situation whereby Northern Ireland is in a different time zone to the rest of Ireland.”
Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin raised the matter in the Dáil, highlighting that Ireland could be left in a difficult position with the UK leaving the EU.
“There is the possibility of having two different time zones on the island of Ireland as the UK have already declared that they don’t intend to switch their current system,” he said.
Mr Varadkar said his government had not yet decided how it would vote on the matter when it is put to the European Council.
“The truth is the government hasn’t taken a position on it yet nor have we discussed it. I’d very much like to know the views of the house on this matter,” he said.
The Fine Gael leader added: “It wouldn’t kick in until April 2021 so we’ve plenty of time to make this decision, no pun intended.”
EU states will be able to decide whether they want to end the annual ritual of changing the clocks in the spring and autumn. Clocks are due to go forward by an hour this weekend.
But if the UK leaves the EU and does not made the same changes, Northern Ireland could find itself in a different time zone from the Republic for six months of the year.
Earlier, the taoiseach said special arrangements to avoid the re-emergence of a hard border in a no-deal Brexit scenario would involve treating the north differently than the rest of the U.
He said some commentary in Britain was suggesting that special arrangements would solve all concerns Dublin had over the border.
Some reports indicated that the Irish government had accepted technology could be used to avoid a hard border in the event of a no-deal.
But Mr Varadkar told TDs: “Let there be no doubt in this house or in Westminster that when I talk about special arrangements I mean treating Northern Ireland differently from the rest of the UK.
“It is the UK government’s proposal to do exactly that – not in four or five years’ time if the backstop ever has to be implemented but in a few weeks’ time in the event of a no-deal.”
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