· Fireworks are dangerous and the public need to be aware of the severe criminal penalties that can apply if fireworks are used illegally.
· There is no room for complacency when it comes to delivering the safety message.
· An Garda Síochána, under Operation Tombola, play a huge part in terms of prevention and enforcement in the run up to Halloween but every citizen must also play their part.
· The public is urged to attend professional fireworks displays conducted by professional operators.
29 October 2015
The Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD today spoke of the dangers and penalties associated with the illegal use of fireworks. She urged the public not to use fireworks themselves but instead to try to attend organised events run by professional operators who have the competence to put on spectacular fireworks displays in a safe environment.
The Minister said “Unfortunately during the Halloween period each year, a number of people are injured, some badly, as a result of the misuse of fireworks. While indications are that there has been a steady decline in the number of serious injuries in recent years, with, for example, the number of hospital admissions as a result of firework related injuries decreasing from over 30 in 2009 to just 4 in 2014, there is still no room for complacency when it comes to delivering the safety message. Fireworks hold a particular appeal for young people and many of the casualties are often children or teenagers who can suffer serious burns or eye injuries or worse.
All parents will recognise how difficult it can be to impress on young people the life altering consequences that can arise from an accident with fireworks. So, for my part at least, I am glad that I can state with confidence that the laws governing the use of fireworks are particularly robust. Licences for the importation of fireworks such as bangers, rockets and Roman candles are only issued by my Department for fireworks which are to be used in organised displays conducted by professional operators. All other unlicensed fireworks of this nature are illegal”.
The Minister further noted that “Over the coming Halloween period, there will be a number of such professional firework displays held around the country, in many cases organised by the Local Authorities, and I would encourage anyone who wants to enjoy a fireworks display in a safe environment to attend such events, where possible”.
Given Ireland’s strict laws on fireworks, the great work done by An Garda Síochána each year in their attempts to reduce the availability of illegal fireworks was acknowledged by the Minister.
She noted that “Prevention and enforcement is a huge part of the effort made by An Garda Síochána each year in the run up to Halloween. Under ‘Operation Tombola’, specific provisions are put in place, in particular, in the Dublin Metropolitan Region and border Divisions, so as to prevent and detect the organised importation for sale of illegal fireworks in the run up to Halloween. The Minister further commented that “An Garda Síochána, thanks to a tightening of the law some years ago , have now additional powers to conduct searches of people and vehicles in which there is a suspicion that they might be carrying illegal fireworks with intent to sell or supply. I am hopeful that this will further reassure people, and parents of young children and teenagers in particular, that those attempting to sell or supply illegal fireworks will have their efforts frustrated at every turn and I am sure that the Garda Authorities will continue to have success in this regard”.
On the subject of offences, the Minister also referred to the severe criminal penalties that apply in respect of illegal fireworks. She said “Fireworks are not only dangerous, there are severe criminal penalties that, in my opinion, are fully justified and rightly apply. For example, igniting an illegal firework in any place, throwing an ignited firework at a person or property or being in possession of illegal fireworks with intent to sell or supply can result in a fine of up to €10,000 or 5 years imprisonment”.
The Minister also emphasised the work that her Department would continue to undertake in order to ensure that the general public is made aware both of the dangers of fireworks and the consequences of a breach of the legislation. The Department’s efforts in this regard are supported each year, as Halloween approaches, by the placement of a fireworks information notice in the print media highlighting the dangers and illegality of fireworks.
The Minister concluded by asking all citizens to play their part in ensuring that this is a happy and safe Halloween. “My Department and the Garda Authorities will continue to do everything possible to prevent the misuse of fireworks, but it is vital that we all, as individual citizens, take responsibility for ensuring that the Halloween festivities are enjoyed in a safe environment. Taking part in Halloween activities involving unlicensed fireworks, no matter how harmless the event might appear on the surface, is potentially putting the safety and the lives of others at risk. Fireworks are therefore best left to professionals.