Fireworks worth €5k seized as public warned of dangers
Gardai have seized 34 consignments of illegal fireworks worth almost €5,000 ahead of Halloween celebrations later this week.
The seizures were carried out as part of Operation Tombola, which aims to clamp down on the sale and importation of fireworks.
A major safety campaign was launched last week, urging parents not to buy their children fireworks this Halloween, with the dangers being highlighted by the emergency services.
Figures released by the Department of Justice show that 34 seizures of unlicensed fireworks have been carried out by gardai to date this year as Halloween approaches.
In 2018, fireworks with an estimated value of €17,569 were seized during 123 raids over the course of the full year. This compared to 89 seizures in 2017, resulting in the confiscation of fireworks worth €5,330.
Fireworks are regulated in Ireland, and can only be imported under licence for use in organised displays conducted by professionals or competent operators.
Possession of unlicensed fireworks with intent to sell or supply is an offence punishable by a fine of up to €10,000 and up to five years in prison.
Lighting a firework in a public place, or throwing it at any person or property, can also result in similar penalties.
"An Garda Siochana take a proactive approach and have put measures in place in every garda division to assist in the prevention and detection of the sale and importation of fireworks in the run-up to Halloween," said Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan in response to a parliamentary question.
Last year, Dublin Fire Brigade received more than 900 calls on Halloween night, requiring a fleet of 21 fire engines and 137 firefighters to be deployed.
"Most of us enjoy firework displays and we associate them with very special occasions," Mr Flanagan said.
"However, it is really important that anyone who intends to illegally purchase fireworks to mark Halloween knows that these devices can be extremely dangerous and cause very serious injuries."
Last Tuesday, a 15-year-old boy required surgery on his hand and abdomen after lighting a firework that he had found at the railway station in Kilbarrack, Dublin.
The item had a short fuse and exploded while he was holding it in his right hand.