Cancelled Halloween events spark fear of illegal bonfires

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Halloween events in Dublin are likely to be cancelled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Dublin City Council has already decided traditional organised gatherings will not be possible and will have to be replaced by “environmental initiatives”, community engagement projects, and “virtual” festivals.

However, The Irish Times reports that council management and councillors have acknowledged that illegal bonfires are likely to return without organised festivities.

The council has for several years organised parades, funfairs, and fireworks displays in the city and suburbs such as Ballymun, Finglas, the Docklands and Ballyfermot, which have been successful in reducing the number of illegal bonfires held.

It comes as communities across the capital report a significant increase in fireworks and bangers being set off.

Sinn Féin councillor Daithí Doolan said people are being left terrorised – and the Garda Commissioner should step in.

"He needs to engage with communities, engage with gardaí on the ground and release a serious amount of resources so our communities can be adequately policed," he said.

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"My biggest fear is that we are eight weeks out from Halloween. If we don't tackle it now we will be in a bigger crisis."

Independent Ballymun councillor Noeleen Reilly told The Irish Times the Ballymun Otherworld Festival had resulted in a “huge decrease in bonfires” in recent years.

“Last year was the quietest Halloween in Ballymun I can remember. The festival has have a huge impact and there has been a steady decrease in bonfires,” she said.

“There will be that knock-on effect of the return of bonfires, but there were about 5,000 people at the festival in Ballymun last years and I just don’t see how it could safely go ahead this year. I think taking the decision to cancel these events now is the right thing to do.”

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