€2k council drones helped to spot illicit Halloween stashes

A bonfire on Halloween night

Ryan Nugent

Eyes in the sky costing just under €2,000 helped Dublin City Council (DCC) clamp down on illegal bonfire material at Halloween.

The council used drones last month as part of a pilot programme as it sought to identify bonfire stashes in the city.

A total of €1,845 was spent in the South Central area alone. The area covers Crumlin, Drimnagh and Ballyfermot.

DCC estimates that over a three-day period, 3,500 pallets were retrieved by council staff in a massive clampdown.

Across the entire city, 347 tonnes of bonfire material was collected and disposed of, including items taken from bonfire clean-ups.

The single biggest stockpile removed in the South Central area was on Keeper Road in Drimnagh, where six truckloads of pallets and tyres were taken away.

This was followed by six truckloads of pallets, drums and spindles taken from St Teresa's Gardens over four different visits.

In total, DCC spent more than €43,000 in combating the anti-social element of the holiday in the area. This included €24,045 on truck hire and labour and €15,000 on staff overtime.

"The early retrieval of bonfire material from the public domain and from Dublin City Council housing complexes proved to be very successful," a council report on the Halloween period read.

"Intelligence-based operations and drone technology was used to detect stockpiling in vacant sites, laneways, open public spaces, green margins and parklands.

"The main tranche began on Saturday, October 27, and was carried through to 6pm on October 31.

"Many bonfire material raids were planned and executed with gardai, resulting in some very successful hauls.

"The garda co-operation and assistance is to be commended, providing invaluable support in the south west inner city, Ballyfermot and Crumlin."

The council told a joint policing committee for the area yesterday that the significant rise in bonfire material retrieved was mainly as a result of the use of drones.

A response to a query from Sinn Fein councillor Daithi Doolan found that 175 tonnes of bonfire material was recovered here this year, compared with 103 tonnes last year and 150 in 2016.


Area manager Bruce Phillips described the way in which bonfire materials are being hidden these days is more "sophisticated and clever".

He said some materials are being kept on private property and in warehouses, so the use of drone technology has "proved very beneficial in the fight".

A petrol bomb attack on a garda in Drimnagh on Halloween night was also brought up at the meeting.

Gardai said they are dealing with the issues "robustly".