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squib horror Fears woman struck by firework in Galway city centre could lose sight in one eye

The woman was struck as she sat at a bus stop near Eyre Square in the city


THE young woman who was struck with a firework in Galway city centre on Friday is believed to have lost sight in one her eyes as a result of the attack.

The horrifying incident occurred shortly after midnight on Friday morning when the woman was sitting at a bus stop beside the taxi rank in Eyre Square.

Large groups of people had been gathering in the square on Thursday night into Friday morning, some of whom had been letting off fireworks.

The young woman had been sitting at the bus stop when someone fired a firework across hitting her directly in the face causing “life-changing” injuries.

She was taken to hospital by ambulance the Sunday World understands she has lost sight in one of her eyes as a result of the attack. It is feared the injury to one of her eyes may be permanent.

No arrests have been made and gardai are appealing for witnesses or anyone with footage of the incident to contact.

The person responsible for the attack could face up to five years in prison if apprehended and convicted.

It is just the latest incident where people have been targeted by gangs in the area launching fireworks.

A gang of youths also targeted people walking through Eyre Square last weekend. One woman targeted had to receive medical attention to her back after a firework hit her and burnt through her clothing.

Local Fianna Fail Councillor Alan Cheevers said he feared someone could be killed unless illegal fireworks are taken off the streets.

“There was a very serious incident. There was a gathering of youths in Eyre Square and there was a young woman sitting at a bus stop across the square and a firework hit her. She got a serious injury.

“The reality is this is an issue in Galway and across the country. We’ve seen this time and time again.

“Unfortunately, these fireworks get into the hands of young people who are not responsible with them and we have incidents like what happened in Eyre Square this week and other incidents across the country. “

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He said there has been ongoing issues with anti-social behaviour in Eyre Square in recent times.

“It is something we need to address. We had a meeting of the joint policing committee on Monday and I told the Chief Superintendent that there can be danger going into town now and some people don’t feel safe like they used to. Other councillors raised that Eyre Square is becoming a bit of a no-go. Galway City is great and what we want to do now as a council is to nip this in the bud as soon as possible. We need to see a serious ramp up of CCTV. After what happened last night we need to get the funding and money in to have proper CCTV put into Eyre Square.”

Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said this week that authorities might have to look at closing off Eyre Square at certain times. He also said he needed more officers if extra gardai were to be assigned to Eyre Square.

While the Galway incident has highlighted the extreme dangers of fireworks, gardai say the numbers in circulation are significantly down this year.

“The volume does seem to be down. We’re certainly not seeing the same level of complaints,” a source said.

“The evidence would be that there is not the same level of them around as other years.”

Brexit is believed to be contributing to the lower levels of fireworks in Ireland this year.

While they are illegal in the Republic, they can be bought legally in Northern Ireland and other parts of the UK.

The majority of illegal fireworks which make their way to the Republic are believed to come in through Northern Ireland.

Distributors in the UK warned in recent weeks that import problems reduced stocks by up to 70pc and increased prices.

Confusion in the industry over a switch from the CE safety label used in the EU to a planned UKCA label meant wholesales were reluctant to buy large stocks in case they were unable to sell the fireworks when the new system is introduced.

New rules on importing fireworks from Asia via the EU has also pushed up importation costs. Other issues include production hold-ups in Asia and strong demand worldwide last year.

While the volume of fireworks in Ireland is down this year gardai have made a number of large seizures in recent weeks.

Gardai found €10,000 worth of fireworks during a raid in Balbriggan, north Dublin, earlier this month and numerous seizures nationwide over the past month as part of Operation Tombola which targets the illegal sale of fireworks annually.

Anyone caught lighting or selling illegal fireworks can face up to six months in prison if convicted in District Court but that increases to five years behind bars and fines of up to €10,000 under Section 80 of the Explosives Act if convicted on indictment in the Circuit Court for the same offences.

A 43-year-old man was given the Probation Act at Portlaoise District Court earlier this month after he was caught with €2,000 worth of fireworks.

Dzintans Lukasevics (43), from Rossvale Court, told the court his family got a shock after gardai raided his home last December and his wife was on tablets for a few days afterwards.

He pleaded guilty to the possession of fireworks for sale or supply without a licence, contrary to Section 80 of the Explosives Act.

The Laois Nationalist reported that Lukasevics who had no previous convictions said he didn’t realise fireworks were so tightly restricted in Ireland.

“I made a mistake. I’ve enjoyed fireworks since my childhood and I didn’t think that they were this strict in this country,” he said.

“I had collected the money from my friends and got them in Newry. They sell them there, like they do bread in a shop.”

Several other people are currently before the courts in relation to recent seizures.

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