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Monday, 15 April, 2002, 14:39 GMT 15:39 UK
Change to NI fireworks laws
New legislation will govern fireworks
New legislation will govern fireworks
New restrictions on the use of garden fireworks in Northern Ireland have been announced.

Under the regulations people will now have to apply for a licence and pay to hold even the smallest fireworks display.

The fireworks ban was lifted in Northern Ireland in 1996 following the paramilitary ceasefires.

But last year, a number of police officers were injured after fireworks were used as deadly crude bombs during rioting in north and west Belfast.

Security Minister Jane Kennedy said she had been forced to change the law governing their use because of widespread abuse.

The free availability of powerful fireworks has added to the potential arsenal of those intent on causing injury and death

Alban Maginness SDLP

Regulations were laid before parliament on Monday morning which will ban the purchase, possession, sale and use of garden fireworks except under licence.

The change in the law, which is the result of the minister's review of firework policy announced in October, will come into effect from 6 May 2002.

From that date, any garden fireworks found in the possession of anyone without a licence, other than a legitimate trader, will be illegal and could result in a fine up of up to 5,000.

Ms Kennedy said: "I regret having to take this step but I know from the groundswell of public opinion during the consultation process just how upset many people have been by the constant abuse of fireworks.

North Belfast assembly member Alban Maginness welcomed the tightening of legislation.

Jane Kennedy: Announced new restrictions
Jane Kennedy: Announced new restrictions

"There is no doubt that the free availability of powerful fireworks has added to the potential arsenal of those intent on causing injury and death," said the SDLP member.

The news was also welcomed by the Alliance Party.

The party's Strangford assembly member said: "Every time there is serious rioting, fireworks always seem to accompany petrol bombs and bricks as the weapons of choice against the police".

The minister said her action would help to ensure fireworks were used for entertainment, "rather than to injure, maim or distress the elderly, those living alone or helpless animals".

The move will also help to prevent the use of fireworks as weapons against the police.

The change in the law covers all fireworks, except indoor fireworks and sparklers. Air bombs, bangers, mini-rockets and fireworks of erratic flight are not permitted at all.

The public can apply to stage one-off firework events by obtaining an application form from the Northern Ireland Office.

Fireworks can only be sold by retailers registered by the Northern Ireland Office under the Explosives Act 1875.

The law in the Republic of Ireland prohibits the sale of fireworks to anyone other than professional display operators.

BBC NI's Conor McAuley reports
"Anyone wanting to hold a garden display will have to apply for a licence"
BBC NI's Shane Glynn:
"Everyone will have to apply for a licence"
See also:

12 Oct 01 | Northern Ireland
Focus on fireworks as riot weapons
31 Oct 01 | Northern Ireland
Illegal goods seized in County Armagh
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