FOUR men charged with the possession of fireworks for sale or supply in County Limerick had their case adjourned because one of the accused was playing in the Homeless World Cup.
When the case was called, Robin Lee, solicitor, said his client Thomas McDonagh of Creeglass, Creevaghbeg, Ballymahon, Co Longford was representing Ireland in the competition in Chile.
In putting the case back until January, Judge Alan Mitchell said he hoped the Irish team would be successful.
Ireland qualified for the second round with Mr McDonagh opening the scoring in a vital 6-2 win over Wales. Judge Mitchell said if they do succeed he hoped there would be bonfires and not fireworks.
“I’m not saying anymore,” said Judge Mitchell, who stressed the presumption of innocence.
The Irish team ended up finishing 16th out of 48 nations.
The judge said the issue of fireworks is very topical at the moment in the run up to Halloween.
“The message should go out that gardai in the Bruff district will be very vigilant in the coming days,” said Judge Mitchell.
This was echoed by Sergeant Michelle Leahy.
The four men are charged in connection with fireworks, valued at €20,000, that were seized in a planned operation by gardai and customs and excise officers at Kilmallock Mart on October 28, 2013.
The three other men charged with the possession of fireworks for sale or supply are William Doran, of Uisneach, Ballymore, Co Westmeath; Anthony Nevin, of Cuasan, Lisbrack Road, Longford and John Nevin, of Mostrim Road, Ballymahon, Longford.
A solicitor made an application on behalf of one of the accused, who was in court, for free legal aid. He said his client was the father of four children and in receipt of €440 social welfare every week.
“The Department of Social Protection may be interested in him selling fireworks, I’m not saying anymore,” said Judge Mitchell.
He adjourned the cases against all four accused until January.
Meanwhile, gardai are issuing a warning about the serious dangers associated with using fireworks.
“Each year many children and young persons suffer terrible injuries caused by fireworks, including burns, loss of limbs and serious eye injuries. It should be borne in mind that the sale, possession or use of fireworks in this country is illegal.
“It should be also noted that it is illegal to possess any fireworks that may have been legally purchased outside of the jurisdiction and then brought into the State.
“Many of the fireworks that are offered for sale illegally here have not passed any quality control tests and are possibly defective, said a garda spokesperson.