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Dublin: 7°C Thursday 15 April 2021

Gardaí launch crackdown on firework sellers trading on social media

A garda operation targeting these traders was brought in earlier than usual.

Fireworks seized by gardaí earlier this month.
Fireworks seized by gardaí earlier this month.

GARDAÍ INVESTIGATING THE illegal sale of fireworks have targeted people who are using social media sites to sell off the goods.

Officers launched Operation Tombola earlier this month which is a garda initiative which focusses on policing the upcoming Halloween period. 

Traditionally, the garda operation mainly focusses on the sale of fireworks but anti-social behaviour and the illegal construction of bonfires are also targeted. 

Late last week, gardaí said they seized a “significant” quantity of fireworks. The items were confiscated following search operations in the Coolock and Cabinteely areas of Dublin. 

Gardaí brought forward Operation Tombola by a month due to a marked increase in the number of people setting off fireworks. It usually runs for the whole month of October. However, it was decided to begin earlier this year. 

Officers have had to adapt in recent years to changes in the way fireworks are being bought.     

Social media platforms, especially Facebook and Instagram, continue to be used by members of the public to buy large quantities of fireworks. 

One particular Facebook page, which we are not naming, is openly selling the items and is not attempting to hide it. That page has over 800 friends and was set up in the last month. 

Similar accounts have started to pop up across Instagram too. Gardaí believe that even low-level drug dealers are stocking up to sell on fireworks this year to supplement the income they lost during the pandemic.  

Just Minister Helen McEntee last week launched an annual fireworks awareness campaign, which seeks to highlight the potential injuries and damage they can cause.

McEntee also highlighted the severe sentences people can face if convicted of illegally buying, selling or using fireworks. She said: “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.”

The Department of Justice will in the coming weeks roll out targeted social media adverts aimed at younger people who may be thinking of using fireworks.

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Gardaí also warned that “many of the illegal fireworks that are offered for sale illegally here have not passed any quality-control tests and are possibly defective”. 

They said there is a specific offence under the law for throwing any ignited fireworks in public places. 

“Apart from the risk of injury, fireworks can cause great distress and annoyance to elderly residents,” gardaí said. 

“They can set off intruder alarms, causing unnecessary extra demands on Garda resources. they can also cause great distress to family pets and animals,” it said. 

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