Fireworks are leaving children with “serious injuries” every year, Gardaí have warned.
Despite being illegal in the Republic of Ireland, fireworks are an occasional sight in the skies above many towns and cities - especially in the run up to Halloween.
Speaking on The Pat Kenny Show, Wicklow Crime Prevention Officer Sergeant John FitzPatrick said fireworks are easily bought in Northern Ireland and there is little Gardaí can do to stop them being brought south.
“A lot of people genuinely don’t actually realise that they are illegal in Ireland,” he said.
“It is an offence to possess an unlicensed firework and, in fact, one of your producers said to me she used to think they were legal on Halloween.
“There are a few myths around and just to make it clear from the outset, it is actually an offence to possess an unlicensed firework in the Republic of Ireland.
“It’s an offence to light an unlicensed firework and it’s a serious offence to throw fireworks at people for obvious reasons and they do carry serious penalties - up to €10,000 or five years in prison.”
Daisy loves dressing up at #Halloween but can’t enjoy it like the rest of us due to fireworks. They make her really frightened and could cause her serious injuries if she was hit by one.
Fireworks are illegal. #Garda #TuesdayThoughts #ThinkOfDaisy pic.twitter.com/gyG8BZkjPo
— Garda Info (@gardainfo) October 23, 2018
Gardaí often seize fireworks around this time year and Sgt FitzPatrick said there is good reason for that.
“We do see serious injuries every year and what’s most worrying is injuries to children,” he said.
“You’re seeing burns, you’re seeing permanent scarring, you can see loss of sight in some cases but certainly injuries to faces and fingers are the most prevalent.”
Another safety issue in October is the burning of bonfires – and while some are licensed, Sgt FitzPatrick said many are illegal and best avoided.
“I would appeal to people just to report stockpiling of material [for bonfires],” he said.
“The other thing is the actual collection of this material actually leads to an activity that itself could be criminal - for example, trespassing on premises.
“That could expose young people to risks.”
Stay Safe this Halloween
Every Halloween, Gardaí and Fire Service receive a high number of callouts to bonfires & firework related incidents.
Gardaí are urging parents to stay safe and not to buy illegal fireworks for their children this Halloween.
See https://t.co/i5D7Qi8FSD pic.twitter.com/iXR3VFmy6l
— Garda Info (@gardainfo) October 28, 2021
Sergeant FitzPatrick said it is especially important for parents to look after their children and make sure they remain safe.
“I would advocate parents, particularly over the next few days, parents keeping a good eye on their children,” he said.
Knowing where they are, do accompany them when they’re Trick-or-Treating them on Halloween.
“Do accompany them if there is a bonfire in the area and… make sure they stand well back.”
Dublin City Councillor Mannix Flynn has previously argued fireworks should be reclassified under the Firearms Act and those who use them treated “like if you were caught with a knife”.
Main image: Fireworks. Picture by: AP Photo/Hani Mohammed.