108. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the steps he is taking to carry out consultations with the public and the preparations he is making for retaining summer time all year round from October 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46051/18]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Following an EU-wide public consultation to gather citizens’ views on the seasonal clock changes, the EU Commission has concluded that the majority of people who responded are in favour of abolishing the twice-yearly clock change and have put forward a proposal to give effect to this. In October, the Commission published a revised proposal changing the implementation date from 2019 to 2021. The proposal is outlined as follows:
- the practice of a twice-yearly clock change will cease from 2021.
- Member States must decide whether they want to switch to permanent "summer" or "winter" time.
- if opting for Summer time, the last mandatory change to clocks would take place on 28 March 2021
- Member States who wish to remain on Winter time would make one last seasonal clock change on 31 October 2021.
My Department launched a public consultation on 26th October which will remain open until Friday 30th November 2018. I have invited businesses, organisations and individuals to have their say by participating in a survey available on my Department's website
My Department has also invited over 400 stakeholder groups to ask them to provide their views on the proposal.
It is important to acknowledge that if the UK were to adopt a different position, this would present particular challenges for the island of Ireland. Any position adopted by Ireland will be informed by this important consideration. My Department is in contact with the relevant UK Ministry in this regard and there is also ongoing contact with other Member States in the context of the continuing discussion of this proposal at EU level.
An Interdepartmental Steering Group has been established to consider the Commission’s proposal and to guide the public consultation exercise. The Steering Group will consider the responses received and report back to me as soon as possible with their recommendations.