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City workers fear attack in bonfire clean-up blitz

CITY officials are in "considerable danger" from thugs when dealing with Halloween clean-up operations, a council report has warned.

Members of Dublin City Council's environmental services section are under threat when they go to remove bonfire debris.

In a document, the council praised the assistance provided by gardai during the clean-ups but highlighted the risks.

"During the run-up to Halloween, there is considerable danger to Dublin City Council crews when removing stockpiled debris. The council is grateful to have the co-operation and assistance from the gardai in the form of garda escorts, when requested," the report states.

The threat has been highlighted at a time when frontline personnel are seeking greater protection.

Fire officers told the Herald today that while there were no major incidents last night they have had one of the busiest weekends of the year.

Firefighters and ambulance staff have called for mandatory sentencing for anyone convicted of attacking emergency workers.

But a Fianna Fail bill which would have given effect to the proposal was rejected by the Coalition in recent weeks. The council says it is committed to making the bank holiday "safe and enjoyable" for everyone.

"However, despite the many positive elements of the annual Halloween festival, the period continues to be characterised by serious injury to people, damage to property and antisocial behaviour," it adds.

A number of agencies, including the council, gardai and Dublin Fire Brigade work together to manage and control the risks. But it requires "considerable resources, both physical and financial", the local authority says.

In the North Central Area, the council has launched its Keep It Green This Halloween campaign.

Appeals are being made to businesses and residents not to stockpile material which leads to the "destruction" of parks and other green spaces.

The report says: "Emphasis will be placed on health and safety, the environment, and the recycling and reusing of unwanted items."

Official firework displays and events have been planned so people won't have to depend on illegal activities.

Public warnings are being issued about the penalties under the Litter Pollution Act.

Depositing debris in open spaces can lead to on-the-spot litter fines of €150 or penalties of up to €3,000 for leaving material unsecured.

The cost of cleaning up before and after Halloween has come down in recent years from highs of more than €2m to less than €1m.