ILLEGAL fireworks valued at €20,000 have been seized in a planned operation by gardai and customs and excise officers in county Limerick.
Seven gardai from Bruff and Kilmallock swooped on the traders of the illegal fireworks at Kilmallock Mart at 8.30am on Bank Holiday Monday.
Bruff Superintendent Alan Cunningham said the planned operation successfully took the fireworks off the streets and has prevented possible serious injuries. The haul featured everything from sparklers to bangers to rockets.
“They are coming from back street shops and are not properly tested or vetted. There are a lot of dangers associated with them and we would caution the public that they are illegal and they can be prosecuted for being in possession of them,” said Supt Cunningham, who added that gardai got excellent co-operation from the mart during the operation.
The superintendent said that four people, not from the locality, were interviewed by gardai and files are being prepared for the director of public prosecutions.
It is believed that criminal gangs are behind the sale of these illegal fireworks.
Under the 2006 Criminal Justice Act the intent to sell or supply fireworks without a licence carries with it a fine of upto €10,000 and/or five years imprisonment.
Throwing an ignited firework at a person or property is also liable to the same severe penalties. While possession of a firework without a licence has a fine of upto €10,000.
“We would urge people not to purchase fireworks from these traders,” said Supt Cunningham.
“Statistics from last year show that dozens of children, mainly between the ages of 10 and 12, received severe burns and hand injuries. These fireworks are not properly manufactured and are bought on the black market,” he added.
He advised that parents who discover their children have fireworks should bring them to their local garda station.
Supt Cunningham asked that anybody with information on the illegal importation or sale of fireworks would contact their local garda station or contact the garda confidential line on 1800-666111.