Athlone Deputy Mayor calls for total eradication of Halloween bonfires

As Halloween fast approaches, Athlone Deputy Mayor, Cllr Aengus O’Rourke, has called for the eradication of bonfires within the local community.

“I am calling on the public to be vigilant in the coming weeks and I am asking them to report any obvious stock-piling of material, including household waste, tyres and pallets by youths for use in building bonfires for Halloween which is only six weeks away.

“It is illegal to build and light a bonfire, no matter where it is, even in your own back garden. So let there be no confusion around this matter, to have a bonfire is against the law,” Cllr O’Rourke stated.

The call comes in advance of the Halloween period, which traditionally has been used by some people to illegally dispose of waste material on bonfires. Bonfires are often built close to houses and other property presenting risks to personal safety and property.

“The uncontrolled burning of waste, particularly in bonfires, is illegal and can release toxic pollutants into the air, which are known to be damaging to our health and to the environment. Burning of waste in this manner is illegal under the Air Pollution Act, 1987, and The Waste Management Acts, 1996-2008.

“Halloween is one the busiest times of the year for our fire service and responding to bonfire call outs creates a strain on existing resources. I would like people to be aware of the fire safety hazards that arise from illegal bonfires, where the burning of highly combustible materials may lead to serious injuries.

“However, despite the fact that bonfires are illegal and dangerous it will not deter some youths from acting irresponsibly when the time comes. In recent days, I have been inundated with calls from residents on the west-side of Athlone regarding youths collecting obvious bonfire material and storing it close to the canal area. I want the youths involved to know that the material they collect will be removed and destroyed.

“In the weeks ahead Westmeath County Council assisted by An Garda Síochána will closely monitor the situation around the Athlone area.

“I would ask businesses and members of the public to desist from supplying any waste material to persons who do not have a valid waste collection permit. Dealing with waste material on any other basis is an offence and can result in prosecution.

“There are significant risks arising from such bonfires, including the illegal nature of the activity, the adverse effects on the members of the local community, not to mention the negative effects on the general environment - scorched green spaces with debris smouldering for days is not what anybody wants for their area. There is also a significant cost implication associated with the clean-up afterwards.

“If people see material such as pallets, tyres, old furniture, other combustible materials or waste being hoarded in advance of Halloween, they should contact Westmeath County Council’s local waste enforcement section on 0906442113 or 1800 819000.

“If people want to contact me directly I am happy to pass the information on confidentially,”

 

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