With the clocks having gone back at the weekend, Cork East Fine Gael TD, East David Stanton has called for summer time to be extended for at least an extra month, and possibly all year round.

“Longer summer time, with the clocks moving forward earlier in March, could save energy costs by reducing consumption and carbon emissions. In 2005, the USA extended summertime by four weeks, following research showing that this could reduce energy use by as much as 10,000 barrels of oil per day.

“American summer time now runs for eight months from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November. Summer time in Ireland and Europe runs for just seven months, following standardisation across the European Union in 1996. But the earlier change to summer time in the USA allows people to save on light bills because the evenings stay brighter for longer.

“Studies suggest that longer daylight hours in the evenings would benefit retailers, sand those involved in sports and other outdoor pursuits. It could also boost road safety by reducing traffic accidents. Proposals to extend summertime have been backed by road safety campaigners, environmentalists and the tourism industry.

“I wrote to the previous Government a number of times seeking an extension of summer time and my Fine Gael colleagues in Europe have also raised the matter in the European Parliament. I am aware that the European Union recently conducted a review of European summer time but decided to retain the existing arrangement.

The summer time issue has been a hugely contentious issue for years in the UK. David Cameron has said he would consider moving clocks forward an extra hour all year round. This would bring us in line with Central European Time in operation in most of Western Europe.

It is clear that the debate is not over. I really believe that this issue should be looked at again at national and EU level. The USA seems to have benefitted from extending their summers by one month, surely the environmental, road safety and tourism benefits mean it would be worth doing the same here?