Our old pal Brexit could ensure a muted Halloween

Supply pinch points don’t just affect legal goods, they constrain imports of just about everything

Fireworks are in shorter supply in Ireland this Halloween. Photograph: iStock

This Halloween could be an eerily quiet one, and not just because so many tiny masked children have mastered the art of silently creeping up on unsuspecting adults to scare them to infinity and back. In excellent news for family pets and A&E departments, Irish skies have, so far, been unusually devoid of fireworks.

The loud bangs that in “normal” years have heralded a big October 31st display for as much as two months in advance have largely been notably missing in 2021 in many Irish towns and cities.

This may in part be related to Operation Tombola, the Garda operation that has been seeking to clamp down on the sale and supply of fireworks. It is an offence to possess, sell or light an unlicensed fireworks, with penalties rising as high as €10,000 and imprisonment for up to five years.

But the more likely explanation is that the pressure on global supply chains, exacerbated in this part of the world by our old friend Brexit, has led to a bit of a shortage.


The North, where laws governing the sale of fireworks are more relaxed, has been a regular procurement source for banger fans in the Republic. But fireworks supplies in the UK as a whole are down this year as official distributors wrestle with post-Brexit import complications.

Shipping congestion

Meanwhile, over the past month, congestion in ports around the world has been evident in the form of gridlocked container yards and gaps on shelves. Some ships have clustered off key Asian ports amid weather disruption, others have been rerouted away from British ports because there are no HGV drivers to take their contents on the next stage of their journey.

Such pinch points don’t just affect the supply of legal goods destined for shops, they constrain imports of just about everything.

So while there’s no guarantee of a pyrotechnic-free Halloween, pets, parents of small children and anyone who prefers to create their own soundtrack for the night can at least rejoice in this year’s absence of an extended rehearsal season.