Stiff penalties associated with their misuse
· Fines of up to €10,000 or 5 years imprisonment can be imposed.
· Public encouraged to attend professional firework displays only.
The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan T.D., has today warned the public of the dangers associated with fireworks and the stiff penalties that can be imposed on those using them illegally. He urged the public not to use fireworks themselves but instead to attend organised events run by professional operators, who are putting on approved displays in safe locations.
Stressing the dangers associated with illegal use, the Minister said, “Fireworks are often used to mark special occasions such as Halloween, but they are not safe in the hands of the general public, especially children, teenagers and young adults. They are beautiful to watch but can be devastating if handled incorrectly. Unfortunately, when we hear of casualties caused by fireworks, the vast majority of incidents involve young people who have suffered eye injuries or severe burns, injuries which can scar for life. In an ideal world we should have no such injuries as no one other than professional operators who are trained in handling fireworks would be using them.”
The Minister said that there are strict laws regulating fireworks, “Licences for the importation of fireworks such as bangers and rockets are only issued by my Department for approved fireworks which are to be used in well organised displays conducted by professional operators in safe locations. Any other fireworks used by individuals are unlicensed and their use is illegal and dangerous.”
The Minister further referred to the severe criminal penalties that apply for illegal use, “People need to know that if you use fireworks illegally you can face severe criminal penalties. Lighting an illegal firework in any place, throwing a lit 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 in prison. These penalties are fully justified when you consider the terrible potential consequences involved.”
Finally, Minister Flanagan asked the public to play their part in ensuring a safe Halloween, “It is of the utmost importance that everyone does their very best to ensure Halloween festivities are enjoyed in a safe and fun environment. Professional operators provide amazing firework displays. I ask the public to simply leave the fireworks to these professionals. The safest way to enjoy fireworks is by attending a professional, public display sponsored by your local community or other organisations. I fully appreciate that it can be difficult at times for parents to convince their children that an accident with fireworks can have life altering consequences - it can be difficult to convince some adults. However, we must all play our part in ensuring that this Halloween is a happy and safe one”.
Note for Editors
Fireworks are classified as explosives and the most common constituent is black powder (gunpowder), however some contain even more dangerous substances. Because they are explosives, fireworks are regulated under national and EU legislation and can only be imported under licence and stored and sold in accordance with explosives law. To date in 2017, the Department of Justice and Equality has issued approximately 289 importation licences in respect of the fireworks to be used for pyrotechnic displays.
Legislation came into effect in 2006, which make it an offence to:
· Possess a firework with intent to sell or supply without a licence;
· Light unlicensed fireworks;
· Throw or direct a lit firework at any person or property.
€10,000 fines and/or 5 years imprisonment
Part 6 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 amended the Explosives Act 1875 to give the Gardaí the power to make arrests in relation to the possession of unlicensed fireworks.
The penalties for offences are very severe. One is liable to a fine of up to €10,000 and up to five years' imprisonment for possession of unlicensed fireworks with intent to sell or supply. Igniting fireworks or throwing an ignited firework at a person or property is also liable to the same severe penalties.
An Garda Síochána launch a specific policing operation in the run up to Halloween each year. Operation Tombola encourages greater safety over the period by creating awareness for parents to be vigilant and to protect their children against the dangers of the use of illegal fireworks and the risks associated with bonfires. Operational Orders are prepared in every Garda Region, in particular the Dublin Metropolitan Region and Border Divisions, to prevent and detect the organised importation for sale of fireworks in the lead up to Halloween and to police the Halloween period. Persons suspected of engaging in the importation, supply or sale of illegal fireworks will be identified and targeted. Intelligence-led operations and searches are also conducted.