Gardai and council urge safety first for Hallowe'en

As Hallowe’en festivities kick off in Athlone this weekend with a three-day Hallowe’en festival running from Friday to Sunday, local Gardai have issued an appeal to the public to ensure the weekend’s festivities are carried out in a safe and secure manner.

Sergeant John Lawless from Athlone urged any parent who discovers a child in possession of bangers or fireworks to remove the items and hand them in to the Garda station. Adults should also make sure children are aware of the dangers associated with fireworks.

If anyone has any information regarding the importation or sale of illegal fireworks, they are asked to report the matter to Gardai.

Recent legislation brought in under the Criminal Justice Act 2006 made it illegal to possess or ignite unlicensed fireworks, including bangers. The penalty for possession of fireworks with intent to sell is now a fine of up to €10,000 and a prison sentence of up to five years.

Sgt Lawless also drew attention to figures from Dublin Fire Brigade, which reveal that last year, some 727 emergency calls were received during a 12-hour period on Hallowe’en night, compared with the usual 80 per night. Nationally more than €1 million was spent last year on the bonfire clean-up after Hallowe’en.

“We would have extra calls every Hallowe’en, though trouble has decreased in the last few years with the legislation banning fireworks,” said Sgt Lawless.

“Members of the public are urged to keep dangerous substances away from bonfires, not to provide materials for bonfires, and to keep all pets indoors.”

Parents are also being encouraged to stay with their children, to escort them on trick or treat expeditions, and to ensure they are wearing high visibility clothing.

Westmeath County Council have also issued a Hallowe’en bonfire warning, highlighting the serious threat posed by bonfires to public health, property, and the environment, as well as the risk of personal injury and antisocial behaviour.

“These fires pose a danger of damage to property and risk of injury. Remember it affects everyone and everything in your neighbourhood, children, the elderly, pets, and other animals,” warns the council.

“Westmeath County Council is urging all businesses and households not to supply your waste for burning in a bonfire or hand over waste material to any unauthorised waste collector. You could be liable to a fine of up to €3,000.”

Anyone with any information which may be of assistance to the Gardai is asked to contact Athlone Garda Station at (090 ) 6492600.

Any collections of unauthorised waste should be reported to the Environment Section, Westmeath County Council at Low Call 1890 320 005.

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