The Government is to oppose an EU plan to end seasonal clock changes.

EU member states must inform the European Commission this year if they would like to choose permanent summer or winter time and end the twice-yearly clock changes.

"While I acknowledge that many favour ending the practice of seasonal clock changes, the proposal is not a straightforward one," Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said.

"It would be profoundly serious if two different time zones were to exist on the island of Ireland, creating significant unnecessary problems for people living on the border and for the all-island economy."

Minister Flanagan said Ireland would be contacting the European Commission on the matter.

"We need to ensure any other likeminded European states are on the same lines as ourselves," Minister Flanagan added.

However, Sean Kelly MEP, who has been a long-time proponent of ending the practice of changing clocks for the summer and winter months, said he hoped today's decision would not be the final one on the matter.

"We shouldn't be saying it will be the case forever that we allow the United Kingdom to dictate to us what we want.

"If the rest of Europe moves forward a certain amount of time should be given before we do the same," Mr Kelly said.

The minister has reached this conclusion following an extensive consultation that involved Government departments and the public.

It found that people would generally favour brighter evenings in winter.

However, more than 80% of those surveyed would not support any measure that created different time zones on the island.

Other submissions raised concern around agriculture, education, and transport schedules.

The UK is also understood to be opposed to the proposal.

Ireland and the UK have shared the same clock times since 1916.

Explaining the importance of keeping the seasonal clock changes, a lecturer in Irish history at UCD has said the idea of two time zones on the island of Ireland is a "disastrous prospect that should be avoided at all costs".

Speaking on the Ray D'Arcy Show, Dr Conor Mulvagh said we have spent a long time trying to create a sense of unity and peace on the island of Ireland, and that two different time zones would create "distinct ruptures".

He said it is strange enough changing currency when you cross the border, but that changing your watch as well would be "farcical".

Additional reporting Louise Byrne


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