Publication - Research and analysis

Fireworks regulations - impact: case studies

Published: 3 Nov 2020

This paper consists of seven case studies, each one aligned to one or more of the legislative options being considered by the Firework Review Group.

73 page PDF

1.1 MB

73 page PDF

1.1 MB

Contents
Fireworks regulations - impact: case studies
Republic of Ireland

73 page PDF

1.1 MB

Republic of Ireland

Main points

  • From 2009 to 2012 the number of fireworks-related hospital discharges declined year-on-year. Since then there has been no pattern but the figure has been lower than that recorded in the early part of the time series. 
  • Between 2007 and 2010 there was a marked increase in the number of Gardaí recorded firework offences, possibly reflecting the infancy of the offences enacted in 2006 and the accompanying increased Gardaí investigative powers. 
  • Between 2006 and 2019 the vast majority of Gardaí recorded firework offences were recorded during the fourth quarter of the year.

Current fireworks regulations

  • The general public (aged 12 and over) can buy, possess and use F1 category fireworks
  • F2-F4 category fireworks can only be used by pyrotechnicians for public displays, who hold a licence from the Department of Justice (DoJ)
  • All F2-F4 category fireworks (apart from those imported under a DoJ issued licence) are illegal- includes selling/buying, possessing and/or igniting of fireworks
  • Legislative options: A

Policy background 

The Republic of Ireland has a long-standing tradition of fireworks being banned for public sale and use. The only fireworks 'legally held' are those imported under DoJ licences for public displays, all other fireworks imported, sold or used are illegal and offending persons are liable for prosecution. 

In 2005 the DoJ launched a consultation to review existing law and policy around the control of fireworks, with consumer fireworks their main focus[71]. The consultation was initiated on the back of growing concerns around illegal fireworks.  An Garda Siochana seized an increasing number of fireworks between 2000 and 2004[72], with such seizures only accounting for a portion of the fireworks which were illegally sold to the public. The Black Market trade of fireworks from Northern Ireland was a particular problem. In addition there were also concerns around the misuse of fireworks, both as a public nuisance and as a weapon, especially against the emergency services. Consequently, the consultation proposed a number of options for change including strengthening enforcement, liberalisation, time restrictions and controlling retail outlets. 

Following the consultation, the Government opted for an enforcement approach.  A number of fireworks related amendments were made to the Explosives Act 1875 under part 6 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006. These included new fireworks offences[73], Gardaí investigative powers and increased penalties for the misuse of fireworks. 

Impact of regulations: injuries 

Following a request for information, the Healthcare Pricing Office (HPO) shared data concerning the number of hospital discharges with any diagnosis of the external cause code 'discharge of firework'[74];[75] from 2009 to 2019 and this is presented in Table 17. The number of such reported discharges declined annually from 2009 to 2012, and since then there has been no increasing or decreasing trend. In spite of annual fluctuations, the figures have remained lower than they were in 2009 and 2010. With no data available for before the introduction of the enforcement measures in 2006, it is difficult to ascertain the effect of these regulations. However the declining trend from 2009 to 2012 and the figures being lower since the early part of the time series could point to the regulations having an effect over this time. 

Table 17: Number of hospital discharges with any diagnosis of the external cause of 'discharge of firework', 2009-2019

2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Number of hospital discharges  31 22 20 10 12 ~ 10 11 8 20 15

Source: HIPE, Healthcare Pricing Office
~ denotes where the number of discharges is 5 or less

Impact of regulations: crime 

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) publishes recorded crime data on fireworks offences[76]. A criminal offence is recorded by An Garda Siochana when there is a probability that a criminal offence took place and there is no credible evidence to the contrary.  Data on the number of recorded firework offences from 2006 to 2019[77] is presented in Table 18. A further disaggregation of the fireworks offence grouping was requested but the CSO were not able to provide this. 

From 2007 to 2010 the number of recorded firework offences increased, where the number peaked at 461 offences. This could be a reflection of the increased Gardaí investigative powers and the infancy of the offences enacted in 2006, with the changes gradually having an effect. The number of offences decreased for five consecutive years from 2011 before increasing in 2016. Since 2016 the number has fluctuated but remained below earlier levels (2011-2015).

Table 18: Number of recorded firework offences, 2006-2019

 

2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Number of firework offences   38 250 333 429 461 344 268 146 114 95 134 184 168 205

Source: Central Statistics Office- Recorded Crime 

In addition to annual figures, the CSO publishes quarterly firework offences numbers. As shown in Table 19, across the time series the vast majority of offences were recorded in Quarter 4, which incorporates Halloween, Guy Fawkes and New Year.  

Table 19: Number of recorded firework offences in Q4, 2006-2019

 

2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Number of firework offences   38 250 333 429 461 344 268 146 114 95 134 184 168 205
Number of fireworks offences in Q4 37 244 283 380 379 276 209 115 96 73 123 144 137 150
Percentage of firework offences in Q4 97% 90% 85% 89% 82% 80% 78% 79% 84% 77% 92% 78% 82% 73%

Source: Central Statistics Office- Recorded Crime 


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