Farmers and those with mental health difficulties are worst hit

Opinion: The clocks went back an hour at the weekend but it is high time to abandon the practice and abolish daylight savings time for the benefit of everybody, including farmers working the land and those with mental health issues who have to contend with the days getting shorter and the nights are getting darker and longer writes Ireland South MEP and Killarney man Seán Kelly

HERE we are again. As Ireland’s only member of the European Parliament’s working group on the bi-annual clock change, I have been campaigning for the last number of years to abolish daylight savings time.

The harmful effects of the clock change can have on citizens’ health have been well researched.

Farmers and those working outside in rural environments are oftentimes the worst affected by the change in daylight hours but it also puts additional pressures on those who struggle with mental health difficulties.

Annabelle Edwards and Abbie Kilbane helping to turn back the clocks to promote a Solus launch of new LED bulbs with XCrossTM filament design which look and light just like the old lightbulbs but use 90% less energy

Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic have undeniably put plans to tackle this issue on hold. However, considering the overwhelming support of EU citizens, I firmly believe that it is time to renew discussions on the abolishment of the biannual clock change at EU level.

A 2018 EU-wide consultation on the proposal received 4.6 million responses, the highest ever engagement for an EU public consultation, in which 84 per cent voted in favour. This cannot and should not be ignored.

I have taken this opportunity to write to President Emmanuel Macron and the heads of the Czech Republic and Sweden, the trio that forms the next presidency of the Council of the European Union in order to renew efforts on this proposal.

The commission, the parliament and the people of Europe have all supported an end to the bi-annual clock change and it is the council that stands in the way of this becoming a reality.

We cannot lose the momentum now. It is time to reinvigorate the issue so that during this term, we can get rid of this outdated practice.

* About 70 countries that participate in Daylight Saving Time, though not necessarily on the same schedule as Ireland which is located in the Greenwich Mean Time zone, sharing the same time as Great Britain, Iceland, Portugal and some countries in northwest Africa.