Naomi Long MP said: “I felt it was very important that the implications that any change to the clocks would have on Northern Ireland were raised during the debate on the Bill. The potential benefits of such a change in the South of England, in particular, have been well set out but there has been virtually no detailed consideration of the impact in Northern Ireland. The Bill would allow that detailed consideration to take place, and I felt that it was important to put on record at this stage potential issues in Northern Ireland.
“As the only part of the country with a land border, any change to the time zone in NI could create logistical and practical problems for people whose businesses and community activities straddle the border and, with the Irish and UK economy so strongly interlinked, there is a logic to maintaining the same time zones. I am aware that there has been some discussion about the Irish Government considering similar measures; however, that is far from certain and unlikely to be a priority at this time. Furthermore, any trial of the change would need to be very carefully coordinated.
“We are also the most north westerly region and so any proposed changes to the clocks could potentially have a quite different impact on us. We could have the situation where the sun will not set in some parts of Tyrone and Fermanagh until after midnight in the summer if such a change were to be implemented, whilst sunrise on the north coast could be as late as 9.50am in mid-winter.
“The potential benefits of longer evenings to the environment from energy savings, and which could include a boost to sport, tourism and improved road safety, do need to be considered, but not to the exclusion of the potential negative implications.
“Whilst I supported the second reading, which would allow the Bill to be considered at Committee Stage, amendments would also be needed to ensure that the Assembly is properly consulted about any implications of both the change and any proposed trial.”