Fireworks can cause ‘horrific injuries’ amongst children, fire officer warns

McEntee says source of fireworks being used now, particularly in Dublin, is being investigated

A file image of a Dublin Fire Brigade demonstration last year of the dangers of fireworks to fingers and hands.

A file image of a Dublin Fire Brigade demonstration last year of the dangers of fireworks to fingers and hands.

 

A senior fire officer has warned against the increased use of fireworks and said they could cause “horrific injuries” particularly amongst children.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee also said there is a “huge amount of work underway” to try and identify the source of the fireworks and the reason for their increased use this year particularly in Dublin.

She said gardaí are working with the PSNI to identify if there is a “potential issue between North and South”.

“I suppose the message needs to be that if someone is offering to sell you fireworks, or if they are in a situation where fireworks have been used, to not be part of that situation because it is a criminal offence.”

She said the use of fireworks can carry a fine of up to €10,000 or five years imprisonment.

“At a time when our frontline workers are hugely under pressure please do not add to that pressure.

“Please do not add to anyone’s distress.”

Chief fire officer in Dublin Dennis Keeley said despite annual appeals “we still see horrendous injuries.”

“Every year we see horrific injuries particularly with young children.”

“I would make a special appeal against the use of drugs and alcohol while using fireworks, they are a bad mix.”

The Department of Justice has said it will issue social media adverts aimed at younger people who may be thinking of using fireworks.

Gardaí have also rolled out Operation ‘Tombola’, which focuses on policing of the Halloween period, earlier than normal this year.

The 2020 operation began over two weeks ago in the Dublin Metropolitan Region in response to an increase in unlicensed fireworks use.

“We know that the illegal use of fireworks can be distressing for many people. We are asking people to stop and think of the impact fireworks can have on those living in their neighbourhoods, especially the fear they cause for older residents or vulnerable people, not to forget the distressing impact they have on pets,” Ms McEntee said.

“We have already asked so much of our older citizens throughout this pandemic. They have cocooned and restricted their movements - and they do not need the extra worry of fireworks going off near their homes.”

In a Dáil debate on Tuesday night, Sinn Féin TD Mark Ward said “our communities have been left vulnerable and abandoned” as he highlighted the impact of fireworks in the capital that had been going on since July.

The party’s private member’s motion called for a restoration of community gardaí to 2010 levels and said there had been a 45 per cent reduction in numbers in Dublin in the past decade.

It also called for Garda Commissioner Drew Harris to immediately reverse a decision Sinn Féin claimed has been made to put community gardaí on a contingency roster which meant they did not work after 7pm.

“There is a connection between a decreased Garda presence at night and increased anti-social behaviour,” said Mr Ward as he warned of a “sense of lawlessness”.

He said Dublin Bus had reported a 200 per cent increase in the number of buses in July and August that had to be curtailed compared to last year because of anti-social behaviour, including throwing missiles and fireworks being thrown at them. He also called for the Garda’s annual initiative Operation Tombola dealing with Halloween activities to be more flexible and to start earlier.

Minister of State for Justice James Browne said Operation Tombola started in September,a month earlier than last year.

He rejected claims that the Government and Garda were not proactively addressing the issues.

“It is not correct to infer that the increased use of fireworks is as a result of lacking resources or action on the part of the Garda Authorities or that the Gardaí are not working closely with local communities to deal with this in an appropriate way,” Mr Browne said.

He said the Garda Commissioner and his management team are best placed to make the expert judgments necessary about where to place Garda resources.

“It would not be appropriate to substitute our judgment for that of the Commissioner and his management team. That said, I can assure Deputies that the Government is committed to continuing to train new recruits to An Garda Síochána annually.”