HALLOWEEN revellers have been warned of the dangers posed by black market fireworks, with gardaí saying they'll seize all illegal fireworks they find.
The warning came as gardaí urged people to enjoy official Halloween celebrations and not to get involved with illegal bonfires or black market fireworks displays.
Gardaí warned that anyone supplying such illegal and potentially dangerous fireworks could be prosecuted.
The bottom line is that anyone who uses one of these fireworks is a fool. Garda spokesperson
The warning came as parents were urged to exercise caution when sourcing Halloween outfits for their children.
National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) official Pat Bracken said such Halloween outfits are regulated as toys - and must carry EU safety standard markings.
"Under Irish and European law, such costumes are classified as toys and cannot be placed on the market unless they display the 'CE' safety standard mark," he said.
Concern had mounted that some outfits being sold on the black market did not adhere to safety standards and could pose either a choking or a fire risk.
Ireland's economic recovery and increased consumer spending has resulted in an alarming surge in sales of illegal fireworks - gardaí described some of them as being "so dangerous as to be potentially lethal".
An average of 20 people each year attend hospitals across Ireland for firework-related injuries.
Most are minor burns but Ireland has witnessed several life-changing injuries inflicted by black market fireworks.
Other injuries have proven so severe that people have had to have fingers and hands amputated.
The garda crackdown has been underpinned by a surge in accidents involving fireworks.
In 2017, a young woman narrowly avoided serious injury when a lit firework was dropped in her hood as a prank.
Last year, another young woman in Northern Ireland lost several fingers when a lit firework exploded before she could throw it.
Garda concerns have been heightened by the increasing power of illegal fireworks being distributed.
Officers warned that, in some cases, quality control is virtually non-existent with fireworks igniting just seconds after fuses are lit.
Mostly sourced in Northern Ireland, such illegal fireworks are now found right across the country.
"The bottom line is that anyone who uses one of these fireworks is a fool," a garda spokesperson said.
"These fireworks are illegal, they are a danger to public health and they can result in the most catastrophic consequences."
"Anybody who uses them are fools, because it is a risk to their health and safety - not to mention the health and safety of innocent people around them."
Gardaí have also appealed to anyone with information about individuals selling such fireworks to children or teens to contact them immediately.
Garda concerns are focused on the potentially lethal nature of some illegal fireworks.
One Chinese firework, called 'Black Skorpion', resembles a miniature howitzer and fires a ball of flame several hundred feet into the sky.
Another firework, which looks like an over-sized golf ball, explodes with astonishing force - and could potentially blow off a person's hand.
Gardaí also warned that illegal fireworks could also frighten the old and the vulnerable.
"There are a number of special events around the country where fireworks will feature. If people want to enjoy fireworks in a safe
and supervised environment, that's where they should go," one Garda said.