Minister Flanagan warns the public about the dangers of fireworks and serious penalties associated with the misuse of illegal fireworks
· Fines of up to €10,000 or 5 years imprisonment or both can apply
· General public encouraged to attend organised firework displays only
29 October 2018
The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan T.D., today spoke about the dangers associated with fireworks and the serious penalties that people face who use illegal fireworks. He urged the public to attend community events run by professional operators, who have the necessary skills and competence to hold displays in safe locations.
It is important to stress on members of the public, and in particular children and teenagers, the significant dangers associated with the illegal use of fireworks. The Minister said: “Over Halloween and at other festivities, fireworks are often used as part of the celebrations. Fireworks in the wrong hands can be extremely dangerous and their effects can have life altering consequences. Members of the public should not handle them. Children often get firework related injuries and tragically, some are scarred for life. Please try to stay safe this Halloween.”
The Minister spoke of the strict fireworks laws that exist in the State: “The laws governing the use of pyrotechnics and fireworks are particularly strong in the State. My Department issues licenses for the importation of safe and approved fireworks displays to be used by professional operators in organised displays at approved locations. Persons using fireworks such as bangers and rockets are breaking the law. These fireworks are unlicensed and their use is both illegal and dangerous.”
Speaking of the offences associated with the use of illegal fireworks, the Minister referred to the severe criminal penalties that apply. He said: “People need to be aware that if you use fireworks illegally you can potentially face severe criminal penalties. Lighting 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 or both. Penalties such as these are fully justified and warranted, when you consider the terrible injuries that can occur.”
The Minister said that his Department would continue to ensure that the public is made aware of the dangers of fireworks and the severe penalties associated with breaches of the law and concluded by asking the public to assist with the overall message and effort this Halloween: “There is nothing more spectacular than a fireworks display at Halloween. While I fully understand that it can be difficult for parents and guardians to get the message across of how dangerous illegal fireworks can be, it is important that this message is not lost. I urge you all to play your part and leave fireworks to the professionals. If you want to see fireworks displays, go to one of the many public displays organised across the country. These displays are conducted by experts, where families and members of the public can enjoy Halloween in a safe and fun environment. Enjoy this celebratory time of year and try to be vigilant about the dangers associated with fireworks. We all need to do our bit in making sure this Halloween is a safe and fun time for our families and local communities.”
Note for Editors – Illegal Fireworks Usage
Fireworks are classified as explosives and the most common constituent is black powder (gunpowder), however some contain substances that are even more dangerous. Because they are explosives, fireworks are regulated under national and EU legislation and can only be imported into the country under licence. They are stored and sold in accordance with explosives law. To date in 2018, the Department has issued approximately 318 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 or both, 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. The initiative, ‘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 plans 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 conducted.