PARENTS need to exercise extreme caution when allowing children to be around illegal fireworks this Halloween, government ministers have warned.
There were 75 admissions to A&E at Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin, alone around Halloween last year and parents are urged to take particular care of their children around this time.
Children's Minister James Reilly and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald yesterday issued a warning to parents about allowing their children to play with fireworks tomorrow, Halloween night, and said that the dangers can have severe, life-altering consequences.
Ms Fitzgerald described the banned, explosive items as "lethal weapons", and said that responsibility surrounding them is an "information education issue as well".
"There is going to be some parent on Saturday morning who will be very sorry that their child played with fireworks, and what we want to highlight today is really prevention and people being aware of the dangers. These are very lethal weapons for young children," Ms Fitzgerald said.
Mr Reilly said that while Halloween "should be a time for fun" for young children, it can also be "dangerous".
He said that it is every parent's responsibility to ensure their children are kept well away from explosives and bonfires at this time of year.
"It is a time of extra vigilance from parents," Mr Reilly said.
"Children will be tempted towards the fun around bangers and other fireworks, and they are deadly, because they can cause the loss of a hand, loss of an eye."
"In Crumlin, last year alone, there were 75 admissions at the A&E in relation to Halloween. I am just calling upon parents to vigilant and of course, their kids need to have a good time.
"But there are plenty of official supervised - by professionals - fireworks and bonfires to go and see," he added.
There are a number of free events taking place around the country. A spectacular firework display over the Plunkett Tower, the last remaining tower block in Ballymun, is among the highlights of Dublin City Council's programme.
Ms Fitzgerald also said that people need to "leave the emergency personnel to go about their work on what is a very challenging night for all of them".
She said that there are "very tough penalties in place" for those who attack emergency responders, as she was questioned earlier this week about whether the laws protecting them are sufficient.
"I think people need to be aware that there are very tough penalties in place," she said.
"The 2006 Criminal Justice Act has very strong penalties, specifically if you assault or interfere with the work of a member of gardai, ambulance worker or any of the emergency workers.
"You are subject to seven years' imprisonment if you interfere with that work, so the penalties are there, they are quite severe and people need to be aware of that as well."