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Sunday 24 September 2017

Halloween safety plan will cost €750,000

Treacy Hogan and Pat Flynn

DUBLIN City Council expects to spend €750,000 fighting Halloween bonfires and cleaning up the mess afterwards.

The council has already seized almost 1,000 tyres being stockpiled for illegal Halloween bonfires. It expects to double that amount before the annual bonfire blitz tonight.

Members of the public concerned about bonfires are being urged to tip off the council about any stockpiling of bonfire material in the hours leading up to Halloween.

Warning that tonight is one the busiest times of the year for the fire services, the council said the spate of incidents put a huge strain on resources.

The council said its Halloween safety programme costs an estimated €750,000 and involves the input of about 500 staff including Dublin Fire Brigade, as well as waste management services.

The figure is an estimated cost for the entire Halloween management programme.

It includes wage costs, responding to fire callouts, repairing damage to parks and open spaces, and carrying out stockpile removal operations.

The figure also includes the cost of holding some community events and a public awareness programme.

Concerned citizens can tip off the council about any stockpiling of bonfire materials on a special hotline 1800 251 500 or online on www.dublincity.ie.

Dublin's Lord Mayor Naoise O Muiri said: "Bonfires and fireworks at Halloween are extremely dangerous and cause a lot of injuries and damage.

"Every year Dublin Fire Brigade and Ambulance Service sees hundreds of lives put at risk.

"Our message is to stay away from illegal fireworks and bonfires," he added.

Meanwhile, the Government has been urged to speed up legislation to improve the protection of fire and ambulance crews from assault.

The Irish Fire and Emergency Services Association (IFESA) has warned that emergency personnel are bracing themselves for another busy Halloween and that members will most likely face injury and assault while vehicles will be damaged.

IFESA National Vice Chairman Ros MacCobb said it was "disappointing" to see the recent rejection by the Government of a Fianna Fail bill to impose mandatory prison sentences on people convicted of assault on emergency workers while on duty.

Mr MacCobb acknowledged that the Government said it was awaiting the final report on mandatory sentencing from the Law Reform Commission, and the outcome of a strategic review of penal and sentencing policies.

But he added: "The Government must put in place legislation which has specific penalties for assault and injury to emergency workers while on duty.

"Thankfully the majority of people in our society appreciate and respect the work of frontline emergency personnel.

"We would appeal to the public to support us in responding to callouts over Halloween and to report any incidents to the gardai."

Irish Independent

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