More than 20,000 unsafe toys kept out of our shops
The National Consumer Agency seized and destroyed over 20,000 toys that posed a danger to children last year.
While more stringent EU rules on toy safety resulted in fewer unsafe toys getting into shops, rogue consignments are still being shipped to Ireland, the Irish Independent has learned.
The NCA said that while it responded to consumer complaints about dangerous toys, the most effective way to prevent them reaching children was to stop them being distributed in the first place.
It has been working closely with Customs to examine toy consignments arriving in Ireland when there was a question concerning safety.
"In 2013, the agency examined seven consignments of toys and destroyed over 20,000 units that were found to not comply with the safety requirements," it said.
These toys were not from well-known brands or retailers, and the problems arose with mixed consignments being imported by several small operators.
"The reasons for failure were varied including absence of CE mark / labels, sharp edges and choking hazards," the NCA said.
All toys placed on sale in Europe are legally obliged to carry a CE mark, which shows they have undergone rigorous safety testing.
However, while major recalls of toys by even some very established manufacturers were common four or five years ago, NCA figures show a huge drop in the number of dangerous toys recalled in recent years.
Lidl recalled its "Playtive" aluminium scooters last June because of a manufacturing fault between the handlebars and tread, which could cause the rider to fall.
In 2012, Dunnes Stores recalled a Halloween Light Up Torch and some soft toy farm animals because of safety concerns, while Dealz/ Poundland recalled its Spooky Projection Torches.
Asked why the number of toy recalls had fallen so steeply, the NCA said that a new EU Toy Safety Directive had been implemented in 2011 requiring toy manufacturers to carry out more stringent safety testing.
There was also an increased obligation on toy distributors to check that the safety process had been adhered to.
The NCA urged consumers never to buy a toy unless it had the CE mark and to inform them if it spotted any on sale.
With St Patrick's Day coming up, parents should also note that face paints are also required to have the CE mark.