Parents and children have been warned about the dangers of buying and using illegal fireworks in the run-up to Halloween.
Justice Minister Helen McEntee, speaking at the launch of the Government’s ’Don’t add to the problem' fireworks awareness campaign, called on the public to think of frontline services and workers dealing with Covid-19 before using them.
Elderly and vulnerable members of the community coping with the pandemic should not be subject to fireworks going off near their homes, she said. Fireworks can maim and kill and can lead to a €10,000 fine and five years in prison, the minister warned.
Speaking at Tara Street fire station, she asked anyone tempted to use fireworks this Halloween to remember workers at the frontline of dealing with Covid-19 as well as vulnerable members of the community.
"The penalties go right up to fines of €10,000 and five years in prison. These penalties are high because the dangers are so serious,” she told reporters.
Targeted social media adverts aimed at younger people who may be thinking of using fireworks are to be rolled out.
But the minister, who noted the clear increase in fireworks incidents over the past number of weeks, said it is especially important that emergency services are not put under further pressure this year.
”We owe it to frontline workers this Halloween to ensure that emergency rooms are not filled with preventable but serious injuries, caused by the use of illegal fireworks. This would add unnecessary pressure,” she said.
”Equally, An Garda Siochána, our fire services, and our ambulance services are helping our communities tackle the pandemic and should be allowed to focus on that vital task. Let’s not add to the problems they already face.”
The Minister asked people to again remember others in their community this Halloween. ”We know that the illegal use of fireworks can be distressing for many people. We are asking people to stop and think of the impact fireworks can have on those living in their neighbourhoods, especially the fear they cause for older residents or vulnerable people, not to forget the distressing impact they have on pets.”
Meanwhile, a Sinn Féin TD has said that Sinn Féin should use their power in the executive in Northern Ireland to examine the issue of fireworks coming over the border.
Mark Ward, the party's mental health spokesman called on the PSNI and Garda Siochana to work together on the issue and said it is something Sinn Féin could bring to the Executive.
"It something we could bring to the executive and I'm sure they'll discuss that if that needs to be," he said.
"That would be legislation that needs to change I so I'm sure it's something that could be brought forward and could be discussed and a decision could be made at the executive on that."