Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Questions (249)

John Curran


249. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he is satisfied that legislation in relation to the sale and use of fireworks is effective and fit for purpose; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39332/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Deputy has asked a question in relation to legislation on the sale and use of fireworks.

I would first explain that fireworks, as explosives, are regulated under national and EU legislation. Accordingly, fireworks can only be imported into the country under licence and stored and sold in accordance with explosives law.

I am satisfied that the current law in Ireland governing the use of fireworks is particularly robust.

As Deputies may be aware, fireworks are classified into four separate categories, depending on their level of hazard and whether they require specialist knowledge for use. Category F1 is the least hazardous category and covers party poppers and sparklers, while Category F4 represents the most hazardous.

In the interests of safety and security, it is Government policy to restrict the availability of the more hazardous fireworks to the general public - including categories F2, F3 and F4. A licence is required to import fireworks in any of these categories.

I can further confirm that licences under the Explosives Act are issued by my Department only for the importation of fireworks which are to be used in organised displays conducted by professional and competent operators.

Under Part 6 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006, it is an offence:

- for any person to possess a firework with intent to sell or supply, without a licence,

- to throw an ignited firework at any person or property, and

- to light unlicensed fireworks in a public place.

Part 6 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 also gives An Garda Síochána the power to make arrests in relation to the possession of unlicensed fireworks.

The penalties provided for in connection with these offences are very severe. Having unlicensed fireworks in your possession with intent to sell or supply can result in a fine of up to €10,000 and up to five years imprisonment. Igniting fireworks or throwing an ignited firework at a person or property is also liable to the same severe penalty.

More generally, the Deputy may also be interested to know that each year, as Halloween approaches, special efforts are made by An Garda Síochána to combat the illegal importation, sale and use of fireworks.

To complement this added Garda attention, my Department also runs an annual advertising campaign in the run-up to Halloween, highlighting the illegality of fireworks as well public safety aspects of their use. This campaign will be launched in the coming weeks in print media as well as online, including on social media platforms.