The Department of Justice runs an annual campaign to inform the public about the serious dangers associated with fireworks and the significant penalties that people face for selling or using illegal fireworks.

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This year’s campaign focusses on the significant distress that fireworks can cause vulnerable people in our communities, particularly elderly people and those with sensory issues.

They can also cause great harm and stress to family pets, Guide Dogs and Assistance Dogs, and that is why this year’s campaign was launched in collaboration with the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind, the ISPCA, Dublin Fire Brigade, and An Garda Síochána.

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Speaking at the launch of the awareness campaign, Minister Browne said:

As we head into the run-up to Halloween, I would like to urge everyone to refrain from purchasing or using illegal fireworks.

 

 

When misused, they are a nuisance to our communities, but they can also have a detrimental impact on the wellbeing of some more vulnerable groups, particularly the elderly and people with sensory challenges.

 and he continued:

Fireworks can be very frightening for elderly people living alone and they can also seriously aggravate Guide and Assistance Dogs and other pets.

 and he concluded:

It is also important to acknowledge that fireworks are illegal and there are serious penalties in place for those caught misusing them.

For example, a person convicted of having fireworks in their possession with intent to sell or supply can face penalties including a fine of up to €10,000 and up to five years imprisonment.

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The ongoing awareness campaign and associated advertisement campaign is aimed at the general public but particular attention is being given to targeting the younger generation and their parents as these groups are most likely to engage in the use of illegal fireworks.

Minister Browne continued:

Parents, particularly those with young children, should be aware of the dangers associated with the misuse of fireworks.

We have unfortunately seen many instances where people have done serious and permanent damage to themselves or others through the misuse of fireworks and I would ask parents to take this into consideration before they purchase illegal fireworks for their children.

I would urge parents to instead take their children along to legal and professional fireworks displays organised in their local area.

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Tim O’Mahony, Chief Executive from the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind said,

Every year our team is faced with the heartbreak of seeing Guide Dogs and Assistance Dogs traumatised from the impact of fireworks.

Whilst our dogs are highly trained to cope with many situations, if a dog has an experience that goes beyond a normal level of stress, such as a firework exploding close to them, this can overly sensitise the dog, similar to PTSD in humans.

Our trainers will work very closely with the dog and owner to reverse the effects, and whilst most dogs recover, some overreact to unexpected noise, which manifests as a fear reaction. In that situation, the dog must be retired.

That has devastating consequences for their owner whose independence and mobility, which they previously enjoyed, is hugely curtailed or completely taken away.

They face a lengthy wait to be matched with another suitable dog.

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Dr Cyril Sullivan from the ISPCA added,

The ISPCA would like to remind anyone considering the purchase or use of illegal fireworks, to consider the fear and distress it can have on all animals.

We are asking the public to take extra measures this Halloween to keep their pets indoors, but to also consider the safety of not only domestic pets, but livestock and wildlife too.

By working together, we are ensuring that people and animals in our communities are safe and are unharmed this Halloween.

Please report any illegal use or sale of fireworks to your local Garda Station to support this year’s National Fireworks Awareness Campaign.

On the dangers facing emergency services, Chief Fire Officer, Dennis Keeley from the Dublin Fire Brigade added:

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The Chief Fire Officer for the Dublin City & County Councils, Dennis Keeley spoke about the dangers of using fireworks, the injuries that fireworks can cause to people and fire fighters and urged everyone to think before they act and what the unintended consequences of their actions might be.

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Speaking at the launch of this campaign, Chief Superintendent Padraic Jones, Garda National Community Engagement Bureau said;

To complement the launch of the 2023 Department of Justice Awareness campaign against the misuse of fireworks, An Garda Síochána will also launch Operation Tombola, our annual strategy to combat the importation, sale and use of fireworks on 1st October 2023.

This operation seeks to create an awareness of the legislation which prevents the possession of unlicensed fireworks, but moreover to increase understanding of the harm that can arise from their use.

An Garda Síochána will work with our partners and stakeholders to  implement a strategy as we approach Halloween to keep people safe from the dangers of fireworks.

 

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