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Letters to the Editor: So, when exactly should we ‘spring forward?’

March 12th, 2022 3:10 PM

Letters to the Editor: So, when exactly should we ‘spring forward?’ Image

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EDITOR – What a pity the little thought we put into the whys and hows of clock change during the vernal and autumn seasons.

In Ireland, we follow universal time constant (UTC) – the same as Greenwich mean time (GMT) during the winter months and then forward our clocks by one hour during the spring.  We then follow British summer time (BST) for much of the rest of the year. GMT is sun synchronous (astronomically correct) time, whereby the sun is directly overhead the Greenwich meridian or 0 degrees longitude to coincide with noon.

However, here in Ireland, local noon’s occurrence varies approximately by between 24 and 37 minutes later from east to west respectively due to our westerly position. This means sunrise and sunset can be up to 37 minutes later in the westernmost parts of Ireland (circa 35 in West Cork) than in the UK in general.

We normally switch our clocks back by one hour (fall back) on the last Sunday of October. Note this is seven to eight weeks prior to the winter solstice (December 21st). There are conflicting reasons cited for why we do this.

Some are historical; others to do with logistics and energy saving. Having adequate daylight during the morning school-runs is a valid one, and even getting the early milking round up at first light was of concern in the past.

What seems absurd and certainly inconsistent is delaying the switch to summertime until the last Sunday in March. This can be 13 to 14 weeks after the solstice which is ludicrous.

While some arguments are made about spring evenings being colder on average than October’s etc, I believe the clock changes should be symmetrical about the winter solstice.

Putting the clocks forward seven to eight weeks after the solstice, coinciding with the second or third week of February, then leaves us with the exact same lighting down/up times both morning and evening as the corresponding period during autumn.

It would add a much welcome brightness stretch to the evenings in late February and March – just when we need it most. We could further appreciate our great outdoors and beauties of nature. The argument might be made for saving on heating bills the way things are, but the extra hour light saving would more than compensate.

The switch could also be brought forward by a week in the Autumn but whatever option we choose, it should be symmetrical about the Winter Solstice.

Vincent O’Shea,

Mariner’s Cove, Baltimore.

Ukraine should give up bid to join Nato

EDITOR – Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine on February 24th with the possible aim of replacing its elected government and democratically-elected, popular leader with a puppet leader, backfired in ways he didn’t expect.

The resistance and resolve of Ukraine’s much smaller army has received admiration. Severe economic sanctions against Russia are having an impact. Turkey sent hundreds of weapon drones to Ukraine. UK sent hundreds of anti-tank weapons. Finland sent bulletproof vests and gave permission to Estonia to send Finnish-owned field guns to Ukraine because they could not stand by, seeing a vulnerable, independent country in Europe invaded.

The significance is that neutral Finland has a long north-south border of 1,340km (830mi) with Russia and is not a member of Nato.

Russian flights are banned over EU airspace followed by Airbus and Boeing suspending supply of airplane parts, maintenance and supports to Russian airlines.

Ukrainian men and women civilians joined the army reserves. It is like the biblical story of a diminutive David facing Goliath. The House of Commons gave a standing ovation to Ukraine’s ambassador to the UK.

China spoke for peaceful resolution and to respect the sovereignty of another country. Peace talks started soon after. At the time of writing, the war continues.  Many of Russia’s intellectuals, artists, singers and celebrities spoke against the invasion. Some Russians asked by international journalists for their reaction, spoke of embarrassment of their country doing this. Some have relatives in Ukraine. They said war is not the way to solve issues with their neighbour in Europe in the 21st century.

I think there is a need for compromise on both sides, with Ukraine promising not to join Nato – for no interference from Russia of Ukraine, and for Russia’s army to withdraw.

The solution is to live in peaceful co-existence.

Mary Sullivan,


Welcoming the news on Shelbourne Park homes

EDITOR – I was heartened to learn recently that Shelbourne Park may be developed for housing, possibly putting an end to greyhound racing in the capital.

I hope it does indeed have that effect, for the sake of the thousands of unfortunate greyhounds that are culled every year, or dumped (dead or alive), or exported to dodgy jurisdictions because they don’t run fast enough or have outlived their value to the an industry that thrives on gambling and indulges in massive over-breeding to produce winners.

I’ll celebrate on the day building starts on those houses. Greyhounds can’t speak, but if they knew about the proposed housing development at Shelbourne Park they’d certainly be wagging their tails or doing little victory laps at the news that a vile dog-killing industry had just been torpedoed.

Coincidentally, I see that in response to a Dáil question from Deputy Paul Murphy, the housing minister – who also issues coursing licenses – revealed that more than 59,000 thousand hares were captured with nets in Ireland since 2009. Not for scientific purposes but so that so-called sportspeople could set dogs on them. How nice it would be for our persecuted Irish hare if developers would direct their attention to fields on which coursing events are organised. These are quite spacious and would be ideal for housing. Instead of serving as venues where hares are terrorised for human amusement, the land would be helping decent humans find accommodation, so a win-win for everyone.

Except for those who make life for dogs and hares alike a veritable hell on earth, of course.

John Fitzgerald,

Callan, Co Kilkenny.

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