Cork County Council has said it will be difficult to take legal action against people who put household waste, old cars and car tyres into bonfires, because in most cases they are minors.
The council was asked to introduce a policy on bonfires after an incident in a housing estate in Mitchelstown on Halloween night, where youths drove a car into the bonfire and attacked fire brigade and ambulance staff with fireworks when they arrived at the scene.
Cllr Deirdre O’Brien said she wanted a policy introduced by the local authority to prevent such forms of anti-social behaviour in the future.
Council officials said burning waste timber, commercial/industrial waste, household waste, tyres, etc. was illegal.
However, they said taking enforcement proceedings would be difficult for a number of reasons including that it would be difficult to identify the offenders, many of whom are children.
Also, they said it had to be acknowledged that the holding of bonfires at certain times of the year was a tradition.
The officials said the best way of preventing noxious materials being burnt and anti-social behavour breaking out was to get local communities involved in organising and policing the fires.
They are proposing that community-based events which have been successfully piloted by Cork City Council and have been organised by the county council in Passage West/Monkstown should become the norm.
This would see designated, safe areas being used for bonfires. They would also be monitored for unsafe materials by the gardaí and the local community group or residents’ association. The unsafe materials would be removed prior to lighting.
Council officials said the best way of handling the situation was through the Cork County Joint Policing Committee, which had helped organise bonfires in the Passage West/Monkstown area.
They said that the council’s Environment & Emergency Services Directorate would provide any support it could for such organised events, which would likely include the local authority disposing of unsafe waste put on the bonfires.
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