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‘It’s a criminal act’ – Justice Minister Helen McEntee vows to clamp down on people who use illegal fireworks this Halloween

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Justice Minister Helen McEntee has warned people to take extra care with fireworks as Halloween approaches. Photo: Brian Lawless

Justice Minister Helen McEntee has warned people to take extra care with fireworks as Halloween approaches. Photo: Brian Lawless

Justice Minister Helen McEntee has warned people to take extra care with fireworks as Halloween approaches. Photo: Brian Lawless

Fines of up to €10,000 and five years’ imprisonment could be handed out to those who use illegal fireworks, due to previous “horrific injuries” involving lost limbs and damage to eyes.

Justice Minister Helen McEntee today launched a fireworks awareness campaign ahead of Halloween in collaboration with An Garda Síochána, the Irish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) and Dublin Fire Brigade.

The campaign will particularly target the younger generation and their parents as these groups are most likely to engage in the use of illegal fireworks.

The campaign messaging will feature on local radio stations across the country, as well as YouTube and Spotify.

Speaking at Garda Headquarters, Ms McEntee said she wants to “make people aware that it is a criminal offence to either buy or sell fireworks.

“In particular this year, we're really focusing on the negative impact that they can have on communities, particularly vulnerable persons, and people living on their own. There is also the impact they have on animals.

“I'm really just asking people, particularly young people, to consider that as we come up into the run to Halloween.

“Consider our first responders, be it the fire brigade or ambulance services, who have to come out and often deal with very difficult situations.

“So, I would again, ask people to respect our first responders,” added Ms McEntee.

Deputy Commissioner of Policing and Security Anne Marie McMahon also highlighted the danger people can put themselves in.

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“The key message from An Garda Síochána is we know from our experience that people get injured, sometimes losing limbs, damage to their eyes, etc. Really serious injuries. And we know that this happens every year despite all the warnings.

“Unfortunately, over the years our firefighters and paramedics have had to deal with some horrific injuries caused by illegal fireworks, whether by them going off in some young person’s pocket, exploding in their hands, or as projectiles from bonfires, striking them in the face.

“So, our message is please be safe. Do not have fireworks in your possession. It's illegal in this country and you're liable to prosecution if you're found to be in possession of fireworks,” said Deputy Commissioner McMahon.

Also speaking at the event was CEO of the ISPCA, Dr Cyril Sullivan, who said: “Given that it's a very dangerous and fearful night, it's also very dangerous and fearful for our animals and pets.

"The ISPCA's message is quite simple. If you can, keep your animal in on that night. If you're going out – and we all know families need to trick or treat – just keep your animal in with a family member or with a neighbour.

“We want people to have a safe and happy Halloween, but we also want our animals and pets to have a safe and happy Halloween,” he said.

As for the effects fireworks can have on pets, Dr Sullivan highlighted their heightened senses.

“Your dog or your pet has higher sensory hearing and smell. So, from that point of view, it has far more severe effects on animals.

“If you're going to be in an area that is going to have a lot of fireworks or bonfires, desensitise the dog as much as you possibly can in terms of getting them used to the sounds.

“The effects depend on the animal. It depends on what they've been through. You would have to bring your dog to have a vet and get professional help the following day if it has been subjected to it. But it is a very serious effect,” said Dr Sullivan.


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