Illegal fireworks seized by gardai.
Halloween fireworks are beautiful to watch but can be devastating and could result in severe penalties for illegal use, Laois TD and Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan has warned.
The Fine Gael TD urged the public of Laois and other counties to be aware of the danger 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. The Minister stressed the dangers.
“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,” he said.
In October 2016 a youth in the Minister's county was badly burned playing with an illegal firework. He suffered a nasty burn to his chest area in the explosion and had to attend at the Midlands Hospital Portlaoise. Story here
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,” he said.
The Minister said severe criminal penalties that apply for illegal use. 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,” he said.
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”.