Updated: 27/10/10 : 07:10:06
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Sligo Gardaí in Major Halloween Clampdown

Illegal Halloween activities would appear to have already got underway with the burning of a van in the Doorley Park area. There have been, as yet, no arrests in connection with the incident. Gardaí in Sligo are appealing for any witnesses to the incident to contact them

Sligo Gardaí have also warned that they will be operating a significant number of checkpoints throughout Sligo, town and county, coming up to and over Halloween. They will be searching for fireworks illegally imported from Northern Ireland.

Over the past month, many residential areas have been subjected to the sound of bangers and other Halloween fireworks at night, as a prelude to the big event.

Every year thousands of euro worth of fireworks, legal north of the border, are brought into Sligo. A large amount are for resale and are often sold to children. Parents are warned to be vigilant and be observant as to their children's activities. Gardaí have been successful in confiscating large consignments of the dangerous pyrotechnics.

A particular 'banger' called the Black Cat has been notorious in causing serious injuries. The Chinese bangers are the most likely cause of injuries as they have very short fuses and no instructions for use. Packed with gunpowder and with a fuse length of less than five seconds, they are prone to explode before they have left the hand, causing scarring, loss of fingers and impairment of the hand. However, the larger rockets that are also being smuggled into the country and sold to children present an even greater potential danger.

Sligo General Hospital's burns trauma team will be on standby to deal with any emergencies that may unfortunately arise. Every year there are admissions to the hospital with injuries caused by fireworks being mishandled.

"Most of the fireworks related injuries that we see are hand injuries", explains Dr Patricia Eadie, a consultant plastic surgeon who works at St James' Hospital and Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in Dublin. "They tend to be caused by children lighting bangers then holding them for too long. Fireworks can cause burns as well, but they have been known to cause extensive damage to children's hands, including fingers being amputated".

The gardai are also surprised that parents continue to allow their children to play with items that are classified as explosives. Despite the fact that possession of fireworks is illegal and punishable by a fine or imprisonment, it seems that many parents are still turning a blind eye to what they erroneously see as harmless amusement.

"Children maim themselves every Hallowe'en and the good people of Ireland are letting it happen", says Detective garda Shane Henry of the Ballistics Section. "People should know that they are dangerous, because if they were not then they would not be illegal. If parents in the past let their children play with fireworks, I strongly suggest they stop because they will suffer the consequences. They may find the gardai at their door, or spend a month running in and out of hospital visiting their child".

All Sligo Fire Service tenders will also be ready to deal with any unapproved bonfires.