LIMERICK City Council has warned householders intending to use the May Eve bonfires to get rid of waste that they could face prosecution under the litter laws.
Twenty people were fined in Limerick last year when observed by council staff and contractors, while litter offences were also picked up on CCTV, said Paul Foley, senior executive officer at the environment department at City Hall.
Increased vigilance had seen the clean-up bill associated with May Eve bonfires come down in recent years. In 2009, the council spent â‚¬50,000 removing charred debris and making good green areas. The clean-up bill had reduced to around â‚¬20,000 last year.
Mr Foley said the council would be enforcing the litter laws ahead of the May Eve bonfires and during the May bank holiday weekend, which coincides with Riverfest and the Great Limerick Run.
â€œWhere we see any sign of bonfires being built up and especially where there are inappropriate items being left aside to be burned, we will be taking action,â€ he said.
This was not just for environmental reason but out of concern for the health of children at bonfires.
â€œWe need co-operation from the local community to put an end to the burning of waste in bonfires. Limerick City Council do not wish to put an end to the tradition of celebrating mid-summer, but letâ€™s keep the bonfires free of waste and other toxic material,â€ Mr Foley said.
Mattresses and furniture, he said, can contain chemicals, plastics and solvents and produce toxic fumes.
Householders are being warned not to give such bulk waste to local children looking to build bonfires and to ensure their bins are secure. People storing waste for fires may be visited by the council and asked to produce receipts showing their waste is correctly disposed of.